But in the year since, the cornucopia of virtual events has exploded. There are poetry open mics everywhere, everyday. I can read at an open mic across the country through the magic of the internet. But there's also a lecture at the same time with world renowned scientists about climate change. And my cell phone plan is offering me a free online class that I feel obligated to take advantage of. And meanwhile there are four other lectures, table readings hosted by a local theatre, online film festivals, don't forget to watch the solstice at Stonehenge, an organizing meeting about every important cause I have ever cared about, a friend is performing an online concert with new songs, my inbox is filling up with announcements about virtual concerts and classes and talks and readings, there's a poetry gala with all kinds of amazing people attending, there's a free writing conference, and finally that union meeting I've been meaning to attend, and...
This pandemic was first a curse, then a blessing in disguise with the expanded access we all have to virtually EVERYTHING...to, feeling like a curse of too much. I want to attend EVERYTHING, and most nights, I end up on the couch binge watching West Wing anyway. Because I forget. Followed by the next day when I realize that the thing I really, REALLY wanted to watch was last night and I couldn't remember because time doesn't exist anymore, and I get angry at myself for feeling like I abandoned a friend's performance, or am a bad citizen of the world because I didn't watch the Very Important Lecture. After all, there are no more excuses for not going somewhere, because I literally don't need to go anywhere.
I think that's part of my problem. Going somewhere requires a tiny bit of planning. I'm going to a reading on Tuesday night, so I look up directions for the venue ahead of time, plan to eat dinner early, and pick out something cute to wear. I'm going to the baseball game this weekend, so I need to decide if I need to bring a hoodie or a rain poncho, which shoes will be best, figure out where the good parking lots are, and decide if I'm eating before the game or at the game.
Real, in person events require a little forethought, a little planning, and with it, a little anticipation.
I know that complaining about access to too much is a stupidly-privileged, first-world problem. But it reflects what I think most of us miss: the connection of being physically present somewhere.
I don't believe we are a people meant to only interact with the rest of the world inside the equivalent of a video game. I don't think virtual events will every leave us again, but I sincerely hope they don't need to become a permanent substitute for the real the thing. They're great as something extra, but they shouldn't be our only. We're physical beings in a physical world. I hope we can all safely return to that world soon.
Stay safe, wear your masks, keep your distance, get your vaccines. We're so close, friends. We're so very close.