Times Been, Won’t Be No More is a saying that has recurred in my thoughts and my writing a lot lately. No apologies for it. It is southern wisdom attributed to my brother-in-law JB Bond. Every time I consider life beyond the current COVID19 global pandemic, and the chain reaction of civil unrest it has unearthed, the words Times Been, Won’t Be No More echo in my head. Life as we knew it before the COVID19 pandemic is over-forever!
I’ve made a vocation of organizing and planning for events and occasions; it depresses me to think I will never be able to prepare in quite the same way again. This realization has me twirling spiritually like a spinning top toy on hot concrete.
Realizing that now all we can do is release what we know and run towards the unknown in open embrace is terrifying. For those of us who claim the title of lifelong learners, how do we reimagine the world after the monster COVID19 turns us a loose?. But once again, that’s me planning to reimagine. GEEZ!!!
When my eldest daughter was a preteen in West Africa one sunny afternoon at the ocean, while she waded close to the shore, a malevolent wave swept her away. But before we had time to react, the Universe apparently decided it was not her time, and she was thankfully thrown back ashore, “not yet!” was the implication. In May of this year, my now fifty-two, year old, with a preexisting health condition, was swept up by COVID19, she fought, we prayed and called upon our prayer warriors and finally, her ravaged body was tossed back to our family, “not yet!”
She was blessed beyond any notion of luck or fortune, and we grow in that reality every time we learn of persons younger and physically stronger than my daughter that are sucked under by COVID19 and do not return. My daughter, like all survivors of tragedy and trauma, are left to ponder what wisdom does near-death bring? Does it allow us a fresh start, a rebirth, a release of that which didn’t serve us in our hour of most need?
Does it mean that Times Been, Won’t Be No More?
The year 2020 is a metaphor that feels like a double-edged sword. Who among us didn’t think that “seeing clearly“ was going to reveal a clear path through the forest? The naked truth is that seeing clearly meant that the ugly, hidden truths and the landmines covered by overgrown brush would be exposed so that we could see the perilous journey that lay ahead.
For that, we owe the 45th president of these United States of America a debt of gratitude. He has no subtleties, no finesse, and he has laid bare the thorny undergrowth of white supremacist ideology that had been “combed over” by polite politicians of both parties with smooth empty promises of gradual easy progress while maintaining a comfortable environment for many.
In this year of seeing clearly, we are challenged in ways our enslaved ancestors would recognize. And somehow we, like them, must find ways to release the pain so that while it stunts our growth, it won’t permanently cripple us.
I release my stress and trauma in a myriad of ways, I write, which lately bleeds the injustices faced by my people onto my pages. I rely on instrumental music to send me floating on a stream of consciousness and calms my tired soul. I walk off my pain on the hard and broken concrete of my neighborhood streets, to a park or an outdoor track, until endorphins flow to soothe the tempest of generational unrest. More often than I’d like to admit, I mindlessly eat, stuffing a hole that can only be filled by freedom. No, food is not the answer, but it offers temporary pain relief. In warm weather, I fill my soul by digging my fingers in the warm earth and cultivating flowers and vegetables that affirm that God is working in and through me and its wonders to perform.
Logic requires me to comprehend history as a continuum going from bad to better and understanding that some conditions worsen before they improve. As a result of the activism of my people in the 1960s and 70’s, I envisioned African Americans living in an equitable society by the year 2020, and yet, here we are.
Featured image: Spinning top shadowBy Armenak Margarian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76790081
SUSAN D. PETERS, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association.
Susan’s work is featured in multiple fiction and non-fiction anthologies. An author of contemporary fiction Stolen Rainbow is focused on the post-combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating injury. Broken Dolls, represents her foray into the mystery genre and is the first of a series featuring Chicago Suburban Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. The Iron Collar, the second Joi Sommer’s mystery plants Susan’s feet firmly among the nation’s most intriguing mystery authors.
In the fall of 2020 will publish Slay the Dragon, the third Joi Sommers Mystery. Her goal is to have her mysteries produced on television or optioned for movies. Susan is a deeply spiritual woman and writes inspirational literature as a regular contributor to Garden Spices Online Magazine. She is a member of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Color. She also executive produces the Community Health Focus Hour a weekly talk radio program for the University of Chicago Medicine. www.susandpeters.com
Susan D. Peters