There is a Balm…

That title is decidedly more religious than I am, but I do confess that there is some good stuff in that book.  I got to thinking about that today as I sat down to eat a bowl of black eye pea soup that I started preparing last night.  (You know, you gotta soak the beans overnight first). As I sat down with my “Social Distancing” meal, I turned on the television to watch the financial news.  The markets performed at least as poorly as expected, if not worse.  So, I’m sitting alone and eating.  Across the room, my wife is sitting in front of a monitor, and tele-conferencing with colleagues about the variety of things that they do, which I am forbidden to divulge.  So, she’s separated from the office bee-hive of colleagues, while trying to keep everything else normal.  

I spent a few seconds watching her from behind her monitor, and was distracted back to my own position by pain in both of my hands.  Do your hands hurt today?  Mine are burning, and not from a hot bowl of soup.  My skin was burning.  I clasped them together, and rolled my right hand over to expose the palm, and rubbed my left thumb over my palm.  My hands are burning from all of the extra hand washing in our “Silent Spring” of “Social Distancing.”  

I’m not fond of lotion.  My wife is.  She’s always moisturizing.  Today is different.  Lotion is my friend.  With a little lotion, there is one less irritation today.  I do still have some more irritations to tell you about though.  That’s what blogging is for, right? 

My next irritation is the common use of the term “existential moment.”  Journalists are too fond of that phrase lately.  I agree that democracy is in an existential crisis.  Many of our institutions are in existential crises.  Bars and restaurants are ordered closed in my state, season passes for the theater are postponed, and the Governor is toying with the idea of delaying the election, scheduled for tomorrow, to be held in June.  Things are already structurally boring.  Let’s make our rhetoric and our ideas a bit more creative.

Do your hands hurt?  Do you remember the Transcendentalists?  If you have a copy of “Leaves of Grass” in your home, get it out and go through some of Whitman’s musings on how we are connected.  If your hands are dry, and especially if they are sore from the increase in washing, we are having a transcendental experience.  You’re not likely to find a poem in Leaves of Grass about hand washing, but you can find “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”  That’s one of my favorites.  

…”Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I


Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a


Just as you are refreshed by the gladness of the river

and the bright flow, I was refreshed,

Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the

swift current, I stood yet was hurried,

Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and

the thick-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I looked…”—Whitman (”Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, “Leaves of Grass”)


If you’re a little bored with our “social distancing”, think about how we are connected.  Get out your copy of “Leaves of Grass” and hang with the “Good Gray Poet” for an evening.  

And, while our unimaginative reporters are reminding us of our “existential crises”…if your hands hurt too…there is a balm.  It is probably in the bathroom cabinet. 

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