How We’re Holding It Together

Welcome. Back in the spring, when we changed the name of this newsletter from “At Home” to “At Home and Away,” we did so expecting that our plans for the foreseeable future would involve continual tinkering. The Time Spent At Home to Time Spent Away ratio was not an exact formula; it would change frequently, subject to myriad variables. The ideal scenario, in which one stays as near to home or roams as far from it as one pleases, was, and continues to be, a way off.

These past few weeks, we’ve been reminded (again!) that progress toward this goal is not linear. There’s no straight path from not-normal to normal. It’s twisty, pocked with potholes, drawn out by detours, roadwork ahead.

I keep coming back to a poem that I first mentioned here last March, David Ferry’s translation of Horace’s ode “To Licinius.” These lines keep coming back to me — when a long-anticipated trip is shelved indefinitely, when my family decides to postpone gathering for the holidays — whenever well-laid plans are unlaid in an instant:

Always expect reversals; be hopeful in trouble,

Be worried when things go well. That’s how it is

For the man whose heart is ready for anything.

It’s true that Jupiter brings on the hard winters;

It’s also true that Jupiter takes them away.

If things are bad right now, they won’t always be.

Apollo isn’t always drawing his bow;

There are times when he takes up his lyre and plays,

And awakens the music sleeping upon the strings.

Reading this poem is one activity helping me hold it together lately. I was glad to hear from readers this week about the things they’re doing to get by. (Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.)

Robin Berman in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., wrote, “Instead of turning on the news first thing in the morning, I listen to music, either jazz or classical. Once I’ve had my coffee and done some stretching, I turn on the news.”

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