This may be the summer I come to dread the sun. The sun has been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. As a Colorado native and an Arizona transplant, I have lived nearly 320 days of sun every year for 5 decades. That’s 16,000 days of sun.
The sun has represented for me adventure, joy, escape. For many of those 16,000 days I have sauntered across red rocks in the canyons of my homeplace. I have summited high peaks and been shocked when the sun disappears without a moment’s notice and the sky dumps buckets of hard, sharp hail on my bare shoulders...only to reappear as though nothing had happened. I have spent many of those days splashing kayak paddles in cool waters that promise to absolve the sun’s intensity. I have rafted rivers bathed in sunlight and wandered across vast desert grasslands wondering at all the energy the sun creates with seemingly no effort.
But this year, the sun seems to have almost too much power. When it sets, the violence begins. When it rises it spotlights the news of injustice, illness, and insecurity. It was supposed to kill the virus and usher in a new season, but instead it has brought only a drought of hope. The cases of the sickness continue to soar. The anger over cruel systems of inequality seems only to grow with the sun’s urging. Indeed, as the sun sets on a turbulent spring and beckons a new long, hot summer, the days seem endless and hopeless. Yes, this might just be the year, I learn to hate the sun unless I can come to understand it differently.
A month ago I had decided to stop writing my summer blog. Everything seemed hopeless or worse. I kept leaning into excuses and fear - no one really reads the blog anyway, I told myself (even though the stats seem to suggest that each entry gets about 150-200 reads). It doesn’t make me any money, so what is the point, I irritatingly asked myself (even though I have never really done anything just because it might make me money - ok...working in Taco Bell that one summer in high school. That was solely for the money and I was miserable). But then I stumbled on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic about living a creative life and what that means not just for the individual but how having the courage to be creative resounds into our communities and our world….even if it just because the creator herself is happier and more content energetically. So, I’m writing. What the hell.
It has to be said that the time of COVID has radically transformed my interaction with the world. As a person whose life partner is in the healthcare field and a small business owner (she’s a dentist!) we have had to be pretty “buttoned down” for the last 3 months. While I pride myself on my summer blog mostly being about simple observations of daily life in the mountain and desert places I call home, right now I’m not really even experiencing those as I usually do.
What I am experiencing is a fairly consistent pull by former students and friends to offer “my perspective as a historian” on pandemics, state control of health, social protest, racialized approaches to public safety and a host of other things. I’ve had countless (well, ok, maybe not countless but a lot) of texts from folks saying “Damn, I wish I was in your class right now so we could talk about……”
This really can't be a discussion forum per se, but maybe some of the things I read or think about that I would mention or even assign in my class might be of use and/or of interest to the 1-200 readers who check this out in the next 4 months.
The editor of the series I’m publishing a book with keeps reminding me to not be defensive in my writing...but I’m not listening (yet) so here is my defensive caveat. I’m not an expert in any of the subjects I may tackle this summer. BUT I am a scholar educator activist who accesses and reads historical studies and theoretical tracts that non academic and non historian readers rarely access. My quest then is to bring you “cliff notes” on some of the things I’m reading that I think might just lend some insight into or even offer an interesting pivot away from this historic moment in which we find ourselves. I’m convinced that this is a unique opportunity to engage with this moment in ways that do justice to the complexity of the era and make connections among seemingly disparate trends and conversations (which has always been and continues to be the purpose of my blog). I’m not interested in addressing specifics of the issues of June 2020 (the history of civil rights as it is coalescing in Black Lives Matter; the long and fascinating history of law enforcement; the historically constant presence of pandemics and humans futile attempts to combat them, etc.), but I am keen on thinking about the politics and the activity that surrounds some of these issues in ways that, seem to me, might do more justice to the complexity of the times. In short, I guess the blog of Summer 2020 might be a bit more intellectual than my summer blog usually is. An important note….I do not purport to know much about much. This is still just my thoughts and my observations. I have nothing figured out, and I’m still just mostly interested in observing connections in the seemingly disconnected. But this summer seems to be calling me to throw in some tidbits about the history and theory I’m reading to see those connections more creatively and maybe more clearly. So the blog might feel different...like the sun feels different...like everything seems different. But I hope you like it anyway. First entry arriving at week's end.
6/17/2020 03:01:30 pm
I always look forward to your blogs and I am always interested in your thoughts and youre right,, the sun does seem a little more harsh this year.
6/18/2020 10:57:08 am
Thanks Cori Lou! Glad you like it!
6/17/2020 08:18:44 pm
Can’t wait. Your voice is an important one.
6/18/2020 10:56:20 am
Thanks, Christine! Hope it's not too academic (which is code for BORING!). lol
10/20/2022 08:52:20 am
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