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April 22, 2020

Making Sense of What We’re Going Through

Spiritually speaking, magazines were a really terrible part of the first very bad weeks of this devastating global crisis, the new issues that arrived like vestiges of a different world, a world where there were events in March and April, arts festivals, hockey games, book launches, and photography shows, and museum exhibits. A world where one might require easy weeknight suppers, there being anything else to do on a weeknight besides cook an elaborate feast. Heartbreakingly, the April Toronto Life was “Best New Restaurants,” which is too much when you consider more than a few are unlikely to reopen again. The ads for the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the ROM broke my heart—it was really the most delightful show, and such a draw for the museum and I am so glad we got a chance to see it before everything stopped. (I was also REALLY not into the outdated issue of The Guardian Weekly that arrived in mid-March with the headline, “The Coronavirus: Reasons Not to Panic.”)

It was an incongruity that only underlined how much absolutely nobody had seen this coming or knew what was going on, that there wasn’t a script for any of it, a template. “Unprecedented” the word that everybody was using, and I tried to stay positive by focusing on how much of what had precedent was truly awful, and also on what it meant it to learn that so much that seemed impossible actually wasn’t. But still, it felt like there was nobody at the wheel, not just in terms of leadership, and science, but also storytelling, all such a vast unknown. All the atoms in the universe just falling, and us having no idea where they’ll land. (We never do. Our current situation just exposed the illusion.)

For me, there is something tremendously heartening about the power of story. When I read Ali Smith’s Autumn in April 2017, I remember feeling hope again for the first time in almost a year. Because someone had gone and created art and story out of the mess of our time, post-Brexit and that Orange monster, and the very fact that someone could render art from it all had made me feel like maybe we were possibly a society worth salvaging after all.

And I felt the same when the May issue of Toronto Life appeared in my mailbox the other day, like we’d turned a corner somehow, the world we live in finally beginning to align with our idea of it again. It’s a miraculous issue for so many reasons, not least of which that it was put together in a matter of weeks once our reality had shifted. With eerily beautiful photography, stories of Torontonians weathering the storm, our current situation in all its mess and complexity. Context. (My understanding is that Toronto’s Spacing magazine has a similar issue coming down the pipes—I just purchased a subscription based on that promise.)

I’m so grateful for the writers who are doing the work of making sense of what we’re going through. Their work is invaluable.

3 thoughts on “Making Sense of What We’re Going Through”

  1. There are so many pieces that have help me made sense of what I’m feeling. Or at least I’ve felt like I’m not alone.

    1. Kerry says:

      It helps so much, doesn’t it!!

  2. Diane says:

    I’m sure with you in being so grateful for all the writers who are helping to make sense of this whole unprecedented (there, I used it) set of circumstances. I’ve written and said the word pandemic so much I’m beginning to shy away from it. I’m a huge believer in story. Because that is really what each of us is in the end — we’re all a different story yet together the story compounds and becomes something else. I love to read people’s ideas, perceptions, and their own personal story.

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