So, I go to open my door and this fucking happens. The doorknob detaches, and I fly backwards with the knob in my hand while the door remains adamantly shut.
It’s all falling apart.
The world, the country, myself, and now my house.
Does anyone know how to fix a doorknob by the way?
Because mine is currently resting in my hand.
I think I can fix it. I think it’s fixable.
The rest of it all feels Big and out of my control.
I guess I should have phrased this post’s title as a question.
Phrasing it as a statement is misleading—it implies that I already know what to do.
But so was the sense of security I felt as I reached out to open my door for the millionth time. We can all see where that got me.
I didn’t think it would break. It was old and rusted and much abused—true—but the thought never even crossed my mind that it could break like this.
The doorknob I mean.
The rest of it, too. I guess.
Maybe I could have done something to prevent this, been more proactive:
- Check the screws—still tight?
- What about the structure? Rusted through?? OK, let’s apply some WD-40.
- Still not great? OK. Let’s listen to its complaints and grievances and see how we can change our relationship so that it is fair and empathetic. Stop seeing the doorknob as a means to an action, see it for what it is: essential, symbiotic.
Alright, that’s enough of that metaphor.
But honestly, there was something sincerely profound to me about this moment. Something that flitted around the periphery of my vision, circling my head tauntingly. As if for one perfectly precise moment I could see all of the answers laid out before me. The very door itself seemed to be shouting at me, screaming at me, “Stop!! What are you doing!? Just look at that, look at the doorknob! You can’t go out there! WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT ANYWAY?!”
I’m not quite sure if this was a moment of giving in or one of acceptance. But to me, it mostly said “fuck it”. Everything is breaking all around you, the whole fucking world, quite literally. Even your “safe space”, your home, is not immune to this general and malignant shift in the collective mental, metaphorical, and literal atmosphere.
For a fleeting second, I witnessed a microcosm of what is happening, on a grand scale, to all of us.
Macro and Micro.
Broad and Personal.
All coming together in one moment of magical thinking. This incident was altogether too apt to not be drenched in divine meaning.
It just seemed to so perfectly encapsulate the current state of things:
- The West Coast—my former home and my home at heart—is on fire. The consequences of climate change are revealing themselves with greater and more frightening frequency on a daily basis.
- There is a novel and deadly virus spreading amongst us at an alarming rate, completely unchecked by our government, leaving behind a wake of bodies that might still be alive if those in charge would only exercise their considerable power for the benefit of others. If they just simply gave a shit. This would, in turn, inspire more people to give a shit. Because it seems like a lot of people just really don’t give a shit. Way too many, in fact. At this point, it feels unstoppable (both the virus and the not giving a shit).
- The economy is fucked, again. I’m only 26 and it feels like I’ve spent most of my life going, “oh, well damn, looks like the economy is broken”.
- Our country is descending into a fascist, authoritarian police state at a speed that is truly horrifying.
- My doorknob broke off.
Just one more break, one more collapse, one more reminder that the world is caving in all around us.
So why go out there? It said.
It’s all falling apart.
. . .
Can you even comprehend…have you even thought about the lasting psychological damage that will inevitably come out of this?
I can say with complete honesty that my own mental health is certainly deteriorating (which is odd, because I really didn’t think it had much farther to go). I’m now having Covid related nightmares—often. Nightmares in which I walk into a store and discover I’m not wearing a mask (it’s the new not wearing pants dream) or else, I walk into a crowded room full of people having fun and then begin screaming at them that it’s a pandemic and that they should stop having fun because I’m not.
Sometimes I wake up actually yelling something like “pandemic!” angrily, in a full state of panic. That’s a terrific way to start the day: filled with dread and anxiety.
So, this has clearly buried itself within my subconscious and is presently wreaking havoc on my already unstable brain.
I’m genuinely terrified to find out what the long-term effects will be. And you better fucking believe there will be residual consequences for mental health.
Not to mention the emotional, physical, economic, and social ramifications that are, even now, so plainly evident. I cannot even begin to scratch the surface of the widespread devastation that is yet to come.
These effects might be minor; they might be profound. It will depend entirely on you and your experience of this situation, your perception of it, and your level of privilege (this is key). It will depend on what you, individually, suffered through—if you suffered at all. It will depend on whether or not you care about the suffering of others. And, in both cases, whether you chose to acknowledge that suffering or, instead, pretended that it wasn’t happening—and that’s coming from a perspective of privilege. There will be so many who are not able to deal with the repercussions because the means to do so are not made accessible.
These are all factors in the extent of your forthcoming damage.
I hate to say it (truly, I do), but there is no rainbow at the end of this, no cliché happy ending, no utopian denouement with happy people hugging, holding hands, and making love in the streets. No, there is no “end” to this. There is only a “New Normal”. And when that emerges—when it finally settles in—there will most assuredly be extensive trauma that will need to be addressed and resolved.
It is crucial that in the coming months and years, we learn how to live with trauma. How to talk about it, how to cope with it, and how to heal from it. How to exist in the aftermath of a physically and psychologically shattered world.
Not to sound entirely pessimistic. I do believe in a better “New Normal”, one in which we do come together and work to resolve these traumas, to right past wrongs, to make changes that lift up those who have been crushed by the privileged and the powerful. One in which we learn that empathy is our greatest strength. One in which love overcomes insidious hate. One in which science, truth, and reason are held in high esteem, rather than ignored, spit on, and denounced as fraudulent.
Right now, everything may be falling apart, but if we hold on tight to the pieces that matter, the scattered fragments that are beneficial and benevolent, learn to see their precious value, then we can rebuild again. It’s going to be hard work. So, if you can, get ready, and be willing to strap on your boots and do it.