As I was making a sculpture on the beach, my mind drifted to the final scene in Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston encounters the toppled Statue of Liberty half buried in the sand. “You maniacs! Goddamn you all to hell!” he screams, pounding his fist into the sand. That he is wearing a loincloth while screaming and pounding makes it all the more memorable. Because there I was on the beach remembering it. We really have done this virus thing to ourselves, with the mass domestication and consumption of animals and then conveying disease through modern and largely useless and environmentally-damaging travel. Think of how the world would change if people gave up all but locally sourced meat, pork and poultry, or gave it all up for good. Think of how the world would change if people didn’t travel to Disneyland for the 14th time or Antarctica to run a marathon or to Mexico to swim with whales. (Note to humans: whales don’t want to swim with you.)
All of these thoughts occupied me as I assembled a sculpture from driftwood and kelp on a remote beach. I took a little break and ate my eager breakfast staring at the ocean. A lone fishing boat came into view and I wondered who was on it, fishing. It began to drizzle, but that hardly mattered. So little seems to matter these days, or what used to matter doesn’t matter anymore, to me, and perhaps others. Of course it’s still business as usual for people in power. I guess there is some hope in that the LA Lakers returned their virus small business money after public outcry. Well, maybe there is no hope in that they applied and received the money in the first place.
I wonder what I will think when I look back on my time during the pandemic. I planted trees, wrote strange short stories, cooked fish, drank wine, read novels, read news and commentary, watched Sherlock Holmes, planted peas, helped my neighbors, built forts and reunited with some people I thought I’d never see again. I even laughed here and there.
At some point I finished the sculpture and gathered up my choice cuts of beaverwood and headed for home. In several hours, the incoming tide would destroy the sculpture. I would be the only person who saw it, except for perhaps the fisherman out to sea, if he or she took up some binoculars to see what that person was doing on the beach.