Tonight we settled down with the dogs and the warm blankets and watched SOUL on Disney+.
And it was nice to watch. It's a good thing that we upgraded tvs last year, because we have spent a lot of time over the last 9+ months watching things on it. From things meant for the small screen (ranging from Tiger King to The Queen's Gambit), to things that were adapted for it (like Beatrix's choir concerts), it's been our portal to the world (as it has for all of you, you're reading these very words on some kind of screen right now).
Today, the New York Times suggested spending New Year's Eve viewing an electronic broadcast that tours the world and "experiences" midnight in each time zone, or creating an avatar and joining a virtual Times Square.
Then there are our meetings and happy hours and even holiday celebrations, all stacked boxes on a zoom screen (if we are lucky, or some other permutation like glitchy conference calls if we are not).
And as I watched tonight it occurred to me that everything has become very small, and what we are missing is the BIG.
Though filmed performances are great, I miss the larger-than-life interaction with the audience that makes the experience bigger than the sum of its parts. Though it's comfortable to be able to watch a just-released movie in our library with my family, I miss the big screen, and setting off for the movie theater, and standing in line to get in, and the smell of the popcorn, and the dark theater and cheesy previews. Though zoom is a lifeline that allows me to "see" others, I miss big parties where you can be a part of several conversations at once that flow in and out of each other and combine people in different ways, where you leave feeling like you have seen a whole new side of someone and exclaim in the car on the way home "That was fun!" Though working remotely can be convenient, I miss having people in a space together brainstorming and building off of each others' ideas. Though I love spending time with my husband and daughter, I desperately desire a night of making time just for each other, of looking forward to going out together to a meal or an experience that is truly special. I never thought I would say this, but I miss fundraising events.
I'm afraid this smallness has spread to other areas. To a government (local, state, and most definitively national) that can't effectively fight the virus or the related economic and racial justice issues because it can't think bigger than petty politics, and squabbles instead about tiny policies rather than even beginning to look at the larger situation (and, if government is not for handling the bigger picture, what exactly is it for, anyway?). Where our legitimate fear for our own personal business can make us blind to the greater public good. To interpersonal relationships, which seem more likely than ever before to get hung up on small affronts and insults flung at each other by tweets or posts or insta-images, to the point where the differences seem so insurmountable we can't remember why we even like each other anymore. To our own dreams and ambitions, which seem hopeless and unachievable in the face of larger societal problems (to the point where, today when I looked at a stack of journals and creativity prompts to start in the new year as I always do in the week between Christmas and New Year's, I thought instead "Why bother?")
This smallness is contagious, and it is deadly, and it threatens us more than any single other element right now. If we can't get it together to restore big, we're not going to make it.