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Jane van Dis


I keep waiting.  But the day never comes when I feel like I’ve read everything my self-imposed mind has said is morally and scientifically necessary to stay abreast in these times.  As a physician, entrepreneur, and single mom, I used to have balance in the information traffic prior to March. I was able to keep up on the latest research in my field, write a new on-line, referenced resource in my speciality, and read a novel at night.  My inbox was clean at the end of every day, and there was a peripatetic and interesting mix of non-fiction reads throughout the day – whether in medicine or economics or gender studies. Now I’m drowning.  Every day.  “Change your self-imposed standards.”  I can’t.  It feels like changing my eye color would be easier.  It’s how my brain works.  So I keep waiting for a day when nothing important is said about this virus, about how healthcare is adapting, about how it’s affecting pregnant women. I haven’t had more than 1 day off, clinically, in a row since February 6th. I’m exhausted.  I’m sure others feel this way as well.  It has forced me to think about the manner by which I live in this world. And what information feels like coursing through my brain every day (a torrent, basically).  It’s made me think that in our future, there will be machines that summarize key curated collections of facts for us every day, so that we only spend time with essential information.   But what about poetry? Yesterday my daughter took a photograph of her feet and lower legs that reminded me of a watercolor I painted in my early 20’s. I had included it in my portfolio for my application to graduate school in landscape architecture – a vocational choice before medicine – and I retrieved it from a box in the garage. And in the portfolio was a poem I wrote that she asked me to read aloud to her.   Her eyes were big when I was finished, mouth open. It was clear that poetry in its scholastic form had become something else when it was her own mother’s verse read aloud. And I heard it too. The way poetry forces a pause.  And a careful one – like looking at a bird but also not moving so that it doesn’t fly away under one’s observation.  An almost holding of breath.  Though the moment quickly closed, I am reminded that nothing in this pandemic has allowed for long pauses.  Right or wrong. I will continue to long for them.  And will try to look harder, to stop and stand in the middle of the information traffic without getting run over by it. 

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