I attended a concert this afternoon, and I think I saw that there were over 400 people there at one time or another.
Social distancing? Oh, there was plenty of that. I was in my own home here in Wisconsin. The performer, Eric Lewis, was in his own home in Tennessee. Each of the audience members was in his own home, scattered around the country. It was a live-streamed online concert, and ain’t technology grand? It would be much harder to survive this Covid-19, quarantine-yourself virus without it.
This streaming concert was part of a Monday-through-Friday schedule of virtual live activities hosted on the Facebook page of the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek, Wis., in the same county where I live. My musician husband George was one of the performers last week. Every day at 2 p.m., we music lovers gathered around our devices to watch other local musicians–Eric is local seasonally–perform in front of their iPads, rattling their virtual tip jars and smiling and chuckling with an audience they couldn’t see.
Earlier in the day there were morning meditations, tours of artists and their work, storytelling, and finally a dance session. There was something for everyone and it was all very joyous, the result of a community working together to rise above social isolation regulations, to share the need for connection. We’re like a community of meerkats, popping out of our burrows to wave and say hi, even if not in person.
Before we even knew about this series of online events, George had decided to do his own live concert on his FB page, sitting on a stool in our living room, in front of our fireplace with a crackling fire, and me in my ‘jammies in the chair next to him but well off camera. People were charmed by the idea, and his group of fans and neighbors and old Chicago friends showed up, online, to listen and leave comments and applause emoticons.
Our friend, musician and artist Jeanne Kuhns, started a daily “sing for my supper” offering at 5 p.m., cranking up her iPad to chat a bit with viewers and then sing one or two of her original tunes. She usually started with her cat Wrecks on her lap, purring and rubbing and doing his best to remind her that it was HIS suppertime, too, and he wasn’t inclined to wait until she’d sung for it. Jeanne plopped him down, gave him his bowl of kibble to keep him busy and quiet, then picked up her guitar for 15 minutes or so of entertainment.
Normally, George plays dinner music for the yacht club members on the first Friday of each month. Not happening this month. Oh wait–yes it is. He’s playing from our living room, and the yacht club emailed its members to tune in. The show must go on!
It’s not just entertainment that has taken up technology to reach out to sequestered audiences. Our cathedral streams daily and Sunday Masses, as do many individual parishes. Our pastor has offered “front-porch confessions” with privacy and social distancing guaranteed–not a use of technology, but definitely a use of creativity.
For me and George, this whole thing hasn’t changed our lifestyle a great deal because we’re retired, and we’re homebodies, so our daily schedule looks much the same as it ever did. He’s had some gigs cancelled, of course, and I can’t get to the quilt store. But, as one nun suggested for surviving this forced cloistered existence, we’ve followed a schedule and the days are done and gone before we realize it. Phone calls from friends, trips to curbside pickup at the grocery store, walks with the dog, time for prayer, time to cook and do chores, time for working on the things we like best.
“Remember,” I told George this morning, “when we used to get up in the morning and cheer when we realized we had nothing special on our calendar that particular day? Now we can do that every day!”
The trick, of course, is not to project; not to fearfully anticipate weeks or months ahead with nothing on our calendar, because too much of a good thing ceases to be a good thing. So, we focus on today as if it were our only day–and for all we know, it may be. No one is guaranteed anything but THIS day.
We take our precautions, we enjoy each other’s company, we call friends and neighbors who aren’t online to give them local news they can’t get from television, we email family–in other words, we do stay connected.
What we don’t do, and what we probably should do, is keep a journal. This is a historical time that hopefully will never be repeated. Fifty years from now people might be interested in how a country survived, or how their own ancestors survived and coped during this outrageously unexpected pandemic.