The Momentary State of Where We Are

A mother and her little girl stop in my library to stock up on picture books. She reminds me that I have lived in a state of emergency in Vermont before — in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene when the state slowly began putting itself back together. In those days, shovelful by shovelful, we could set our hands to work.

Now, with illness invisibly stealing in, the dynamics are completely different. To keep communities safe, libraries are closing — in utter antithesis of how librarians have always operated. Goodness, keep the library open at all costs! Be a social center. Not so, now.

As the social center becomes our homes, I lean hard into my query about the meaning of writing. Of creation and art? In these trying times — and in the days, months, quite possibly years ahead that will confound and challenge us — I know more than ever that writing and art illuminate the threads that stitch us together. As we inevitably grope through uncertainty, through fear, through a fragmenting of the everyday world we know and expect, art tugs us back to that inevitable story that, this, too, will pass. Writing reminds me that the human story spreads vast as the sea, with each one of us living our own particular story.

Here’s word from my sunny corner of Vermont. I’m so darn glad to be outside, the melting snow running in streams down to the rivers and winding its watery way north to the Atlantic Ocean. I hope your patch of earth is well.

Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes — you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable…

— Rebecca Solnit

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

4 comments

    1. I’m so grateful we’re heading towards spring. If it were November, I might have just hidden in the basement and wept. But spring? Singing redwing blackbirds? That’s the song of hope.

      Be well, too!

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