I am just off the phone with a man sitting in his pandemic room, alone, tired with cancer, wondering what his life's work and worries have amounted to.
He sang his lament:
Who am I? What am I? What was my purpose? What remains?
Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
“Being alone in this room really terrifies me some nights,” he said. “What I'm saying Charlie is: have I done the right things in my life?"
His wondering is similar to mine. Only now, those usual anxieties are amplified by the isolation brought about by the virus.
“I miss people,” he said. “I need them.”
It has been told to me by my elders, I said to him, that the meaning of life is to be found in one another. Without the touch and voice of another, where is your purpose on earth? Without those, how do you know you're living at all?
We seek a partner to make us round and whole. A friend. A family. A tribe. A clan. A people. Our shared songs and stories and ceremonies give meaning to our lives.
Sing the song of Black Elk, I told him:
The power of the world works in circles, and everything tries to be round and whole, the Oglala holy man said. The sky is round. The earth is round. As are the stars. The sun comes back to the place it left. The wind in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, because their religion is the same as ours. The seasons form a great circle in their changing and then return. The life of a human is a circle from childhood to childhood.
And so it goes with my friend who sits in his room. Alone. His circle interrupted. His lack of companionship perhaps a greater disease than the cancer that torments his bones. Baubles and trinkets are no replacement for the touch and kind word.
So, I will not fight today. I will not scribble on about the mendacity and failings of government heads and their minions. I will not deluge the reader with the latest gun atrocities or financial data or polling numbers.
Today, I will not complain.
Today, I will go see my friend, wearing a face covering as a courtesy to him. I will take his hand. I will remind him that his life gives mine meaning, that my life is less without his.
I will remind him that I love him.