The last time I wrote to you all, it was early February and my life was on a completely different trajectory. I was earnestly following my goals to both draw and do yoga every day in 2020. I knew there was a distinct possibility that I might give up but I was hopeful that I could keep it going. I don’t think any of you will be shocked to know that I chose to let go of both those goals (womp womp). Still yoga-ing and painting...just not every single day.
I don’t think any of us could have predicted how 2020 would turn out. We’re half-way through the year and already it’s unlike any year I’ve been alive to see on earth. I thought COVID-19 would fizzle out before it reached the US. At their onset, SARS and MERS never impacted my daily life, so I believed COVID-19 would be the same.
And yet, As I write this post, I’m wearing a mask and contemplating how I intend to social-distance for the rest of the summer. Who am I comfortable being around? Should we be sitting outside? Should I be going to restaurants at all? Am I too old for Tik Tok and did I peak with Vine? Did I already have the “rona” back in March when I was coughing non-stop for a couple of weeks? That would’ve been my only symptom. Is there any way to know?
While so many of my peers have embraced the cultural changes that have come with wearing masks in public, it has been surprising to see so many (or perhaps just the loudest voices), so vehemently opposed to wearing them in public. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given the state of this country, but it still amazes me that physicians are covered in PPE, working long hours to protect the lives of those in danger of dying from this illness, and Jessica from high school won’t put on a mask to go to Aldi, because THIS IS AMERICA.
I’ve come to the realization that it may always be this way in our country. God, I hate that prospect. I’m not sure how stopping the spread of disease became a political stance but here we are. Speaking of human life, Black Lives Matter. I’m hoping to spend the rest of 2020 learning more about how to make steps towards becoming not just sympathetic but truly anti-racist.
One of the podcasts I listen to added an episode called “Anti-Racist Thought Work for White People.” One of the main concepts I gleaned from it was addressing the argument that many white people make about how we were raised to be good, non-racist people. Case-closed. Not racist. When in reality, even if our parents set a perfect example (they didn’t) and educated us to treat others equally regardless of their race or ethnicity, our parent’s influence is just one influence of many.
We live in a society built on the oppression of POC, especially Black people. The influences of this system are around us all the time and I’ve learned it takes active work to both identify racist messaging and correct behavior caused by these beliefs. We can’t just say, “we should love each other more,” and be done with it. Because while the sentiment is on the right track, love is shown through action, not words. As many of us know well, words of love without action to back it up is just bullsh*t disguised as an ice cream sundae.
I’m really just scratching the surface here, and I’m hopeful that I can learn more and be humble enough to own my mistakes: the ones I’ve already made, and even the ones I’m probably going to end up making as I move forward. It's my biggest weakness but without humility, change just isn’t a possibility.
One other disappointment of 2020 is the end of my relationship. It’s challenging to write about this topic without feeling like I am disclosing too much or too little. For some reason, I feel that I should address somewhere so I’ll just say this and leave it: I believe we parted on good terms, and I wish him and his family all of the happiness in the world.
So here we are. July. My birth month. I always view it as a second chance to make new year resolutions. Reassess where I am on them. Last post, I lamented about my many student loans. How I didn’t believe I’d be able to even pay one of them off this year but hoped to try. Well, I’ve done it! Another one bites the dust. Much of this is due to your patronage of my art. So, thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for getting me one small step closer to being debt-free. I have many steps to go, but I am hopeful I will continue making progress.
This is a time of transition globally, nationally, and personally. Everything around me is changing, from how I go to the grocery store, to how I connect with others. It’s easy to feel a bit lost in it all, like I’m wandering around a maze blindfolded. However, I think the important take-away for me is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other one. Keep waking up in the morning with optimism. Keep taking steps towards being a better person than I was the day before, and keep believing in people.
We’re only halfway through 2020. We can turn this year around if we all do our best and maybe sacrifice a little bit of comfort for a while (aka. Wear your dang mask).
Before we part, take a moment. Put your hand over your heart. Feel your heart beat and remind yourself that you are here. You are loved. You are capable of all things. You can do this.
Angela DeCamp is an Indianapolis based artist. who enjoys the finer things in life: black coffee, carnival tickets, the sound high heels make when they clickty-clack on the sidewalk.