The chain link fence steals my focus from the baseball field in front of me. Tracing the pattern of steel wire, I get lost in the consistency of its twisting form. A foul ball arches away from the diamond and lands a few paces away from where I am splayed out in the grass. My reaction garners a few laughs from onlookers dotted across the bleachers.
I am in my own world, sometimes. Lately more so than usual. The past few years have symbolized some form of regression for each of us, I think. Plans for the future are obfuscated by the reality sitting closer to our field of vision. Dancing around the difficulty.
The unfortunate truth of living in a state of uncertainty is that our aspirations become difficult to put back into focus.
The next batter hits a ground ball straight towards the first basemen—I try hard to shift my gaze so that I can follow the play. My subconscious pulls focus from the game, and I am back to tracing the same winding pattern of galvanized steel. I don’t even like baseball.
My tired eyes shift back down to my cell phone, which is lying beside me in the grass. I am reading the Wikipedia article titled “COVID-19 recession”. I scroll down to the bottom of the page, noting the growing list of citations—now 404 in total. This is not an error.
Recession. Economic hardship. Employment rates. Government debt. Inflation.
In times like these, the problems outside our own field of vision become abstract. These are our circumstances.
One year ago, good fortune led me to the helm of this wonderful publication. Through the lens of our content and coverage I’ve become more mindful of the issues affecting the community that I love but dealing with my own issues has become increasingly hard.
I need not seek any validation outside of the seeded guilt festering within my stomach.
You want to help your community, but can you do that without first helping yourself? When I try to answer that question, I look to examples within the community for inspiration. Rad Riot Books, KW Community Fridge, A Better Tent City—local organizers, educators and activists.
Such drive and dedication amidst uncertainty remains the highest virtue.
I don’t know much about the economy or inflation. I never considered how economic recession might impact me until more recently, but I can barely afford to live in the city that I love and that feels like my own problem.
Nonetheless, my support network has helped shelter me from the reality of everything that happened post-2020.
It feels wrong to be sad about my own problems when there are so many people who are now living in the margins. These are people who were already towing the line. When the big one hit, there was no safety net to catch them.
I can offer no resolve in concluding this piece. I can only tell you that I am still here and that we are all hurting. Chase inspiration when it comes, keep an open mind and reach out to the folks around you. It still feels difficult to see through to the other side, but we must move forward regardless.
Whether you move forward with purpose and intent or must switch on autopilot to walk blindly through another day, I am just really fucking happy that you are still here.