Who's Zooming Who?
This is the second version of CAMPmatters I’ve written for this issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.
The first one was all about making connections in the time of plague. I hated it. The words felt forced and uncomfortable. The right words of encouragement for the times. Totally inadequate and inane.
I threw it out.
“What am I really feeling?” I questioned out loud. Not at all bothered to be talking to myself. Two weeks of isolation, I’m perfectly fine.
No one wants to hear me pontificating on COVID-19, I reasoned. We are all experiencing it together. Well, together, apart.
We all have stories to tell.
Stories of isolation. Those of us deemed nonessential have one job: to stay at home and stop the spread of the virus.
Stories of heroism. Doctors, nurses, and the entire medical community risk their lives on the front lines. So do the employees of grocery stores and pharmacies—and truck drivers, postal carriers, delivery people, police, and emergency responders.
Stories of loss. Stories of recovery. Stories of kindness and love.
To the question of what I was really feeling the only answer seemed to be: “My own story.” What else could I possibly know? What else could I possibly have to say that would not, under the circumstances, sound lame, or preachy, or so cliché it would make my teeth hurt.
And oh yeah, that reminds me. My teeth do hurt. I broke a tooth on the first day of quarantine. “Meet me at the office at 10 o’clock,” my long-time dentist was quick to respond to my emergency call. “Unless you’ve been out of the country,” he added, almost as an afterthought.
“Ahhh, well, you see, we did just flee home from Mexico.”
I was remembering the last-minute change in travel plans as the situation deteriorated here at home. And the crowds and long lines at the airport.
“I’m not going to put you at risk.” I said, resigning myself to eating on only one side of my mouth for at least 14 days.
“How’s the tooth?” Allen Jarmon texted me the next morning.
“Touch and go,” I responded. “Anything touches it, I go through the roof.”
Tooth aside—and I’m managing that fairly well, (I mean, who doesn’t love lukewarm soup?)—isolation is not all that bad for me.
I live alone now—even my sweet little dog, Pete, has passed away since my last CAMPmatters appeared in this magazine. But I’m okay. I have my studio, my office, and my apartment. On days when bad weather or overcrowded downtown Rehoboth sidewalks keep me indoors, I still manage to get my steps in by walking a circuit in the studio.
Dance music helps. And truthfully, safe inside I can turn up the volume and walk, walk, walk, and “werk” to my heart’s content. Ten thousand steps. Easy.
I wish I had stock in Zoom.
In recent weeks I’ve heard that thought expressed on several occasions—both in person and on Facebook. I’ve said it myself, and for good reason. Shelter in place has turned the video conferencing tool into a popular means of connecting with family, friends, and co-workers.
Long before Zoom made its founder a very rich man. Long before any of us had an inkling that something like Zoom was even possible in our lifetime—the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, released an album and a song titled “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”
The song is upbeat and fun, even if the lyrics are a bit sketchy. Now, 25 years after its release, it finally makes sense. Its question, one for the times.
My family is scattered across the country—Washington DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, and Alabama. Our recent Zoom family reunions allow us to see for ourselves that all is well.
I don’t mind being alone, but there are times when I need to see another face. Zoom, Facetime, and similar tools make that possible. As human beings, we depend on all our senses to interpret how others are feeling. Our subconscious reads facial expression and body language in ways we don’t even realize.
Face to face—even with long distances separating us—we are reassured that all is well. Our loved ones are safe.
Fortunately for the human race, we are resourceful, creative beings. As a people, we will—despite missteps and failures along the way, (or maybe because of them)—find ways to recover from the immensity of the worldwide tragedy unfolding around us.
Our creativity is on display everywhere we look. Facebook and other social media platforms are filled with ideas, photographs, art, and words of encouragement. Businesses are pivoting to conduct research and create much needed supplies. Cooks, gardeners, artists, writers, and DIYers are finding inspiration and time.
Yes, TIME! Complaints about not having enough time to do the things we want to do—to be creative, to allow our imaginations to run free—are a constant undercurrent to modern life.
In isolation, time is all many of us have.
Maybe, just maybe, if there is anything good that comes out of this pandemic, we will remember the value of time when it is all over. Time to spend with people we love. Time to make the world a better place for all people. Time to be kind to ourselves and to others. Time to put aside our differences. Time to find leaders who lift us up and inspire us to be better human beings.
Time to understand the greatest lesson of the pandemic. This is one world; we are one people. We are connected in ways we never fully understood before.
Our creative abilities give us the power to make this world a better place.
It is no accident the first letter in the acronym that forms the name of CAMP Rehoboth comes from the word “create.”
The core of the CAMP Rehoboth philosophy—the philosophy Steve and I preached for 30 years—is an unshakable belief that human creativity has the power to change the world around us. Even if only in tiny ways.
Okay. So, I got a little preachy, after all. Can’t help it; my preacher dad and all that.
Take care of each other, my friends. Don’t waste the time we’ve been given to step outside of ourselves—to rediscover our passion, our drive, our innate ability to re-create the world around us.
And please, never forget that humor is part of healing. By all means, “CAMP and carry on!”
Now, “Who’s Zooming Who?”
Murray Archibald is an artist and CAMP Rehoboth co-founder. Email Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org