Tonight I opened up a treasure: a bottle of cider made by a friend in Santa Fe.
This gentleman had in fact gifted me with several-to-many bottles, all of which I have been—yes—hoarding since I received them, on February 21st of this year.
That was but five weeks and change ago but now seems like a lifetime. Yeah, that’s a cliche, but then so is our context: an empire-in-decline mishandling a crisis. There’s nothing original about this moment. In our rise and fall we are nothing special. Not even our exceptionalism is exceptional. Far from it.
We are blinded by our own provincialism, we of the settler-colonial mindset, which is (sorry to say) all of us here who aren’t indigenous (and—even sorrier to say—a number of them too).
We are both ignorant and brash; both increasingly weak and ever more blustery; both delusional and all-too-well armed. A comedian would add: “And those are our good points.”
So much has changed, so quickly, yet we have only just turned the knob and given the slightest tug to the door. It’s not yet open, not even a crack. The view waiting for us on the other side has the potential to bowl us over just from the sheer shock of it.
Not that what’s waiting is a mystery; honest historians can describe it from a hundred previous examples. A few gifted individuals have already seen it, if only in a vision. Far, far more people claim to know but they are missing the mark because they don’t acknowledge the present clearly, let alone anywhen else. Put another way: one cannot see where we are without imagination, and that’s a mode of perception too seldom deployed.
The cider from my friend, btw, is delightful. Very pleasantly dry yet unmistakably fruity. The maple syrup advertised on the label emits only the faintest of whiffs. As for the tea, the tannins are subtle but grounding, imparting a certain alertness that well accompanies the briskness of the cider’s attack. So the mind enjoys a relaxed focus, an all too rare effect of alcoholic beverages, which tend much more often to the blundering and melancholic.
Here’s a toast: To the fact that things are never going “back to normal.”
I think some people realize this is true. I think I do. Though, I’ve been in a state of personal alert about the worsening conditions of our society for some time, quite actively since 2005 (when I received the message of Katrina, that we’re on our own). I’ve been watching, and I’ve been making preparations.
I’ve known since my 20s (in the ’90s) that I’d live to see some shit hit the fan, and I’ve acted accordingly as much as I’ve been able. I’m not talking about logistical preparations, such as having extra food on hand (and a water filter, and solar accessories, and other “survival” gear), though I’ve certainly put some effort into getting that kind of stuff together.
No, what I’m talking about is the intentional development of a frame of mind that doesn’t count on The System to operate consistently for the rest of my life. I have purposely cultivated a way of looking at the world that doesn’t assume business-as-usual is permanent. I have been regarding the state of our society as a temporary phenomena.
In terms of wealth, creativity, and power, the US had its ascent and its peak and is now in its descent. Not a good time to get hit by an infectious disease. We’re not at all well prepared for it. The man in the White House is f’ing it up, for sure. So is the ruling class at large, as they try to rescue their fortunes. The things they’re propping up should be abandoned, but they won’t do that unless we force their hand, and we don’t seem up for it right now. That is, this is when we should reject the entire notion of “profits” but the “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” that make up the majority of the working class are unwilling.
Before this virus hit, we were already dying figuratively; now we’re being struck by a scourge that is literal. I don’t know how bad it’s gonna get, but I’m sure it’ll be worse than we want it to be.
However, right this minute I’ve got a lovely glass of cider in front of me, because back in February, I drove up to Santa Fe to run an errand for a friend, and since I was there, met in person someone I knew online. Little did I know that it was to be my last carefree roadtrip after a five year period that was mostly road-tripping.
A sudden stop. A quick change in direction. A “new normal.”
I did not foresee our exact circumstance—a virus—and the exact timing—March of 2020—but I’m not surprised, either. As sure as night follows day, something like this has been “baked in” as people say. There’s more to come, too.
I’ve got no predictions to make (unless you want to place a bet for sport) but it seems prudent to prepare for hardship at this point. If your version of that includes home-brewing, go for it. Where we’re headed, bottles might well be a better form of currency than cash.
Does the taste and sensation of homemade cider inspire poignancy? Yep. I’d be lying if I denied it. A little of that’s okay, too. A little of anything that’s not miserable will have growing value in the novel existence that’s unfolding.