How can we make this place beautiful?

September 30, 2021


The world is at least fifty percent terrible,
and that’s a conservative estimate,
though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
–excerpt from Maggie Smith’s Good Bones


I was reminded of this the other day.

I’d been doing pretty well with our very long– almost two-years of — isolation. Not total isolation. Still, mostly. Compared to what our world was like before.

But I have friends who aren’t doing well at all and their recent plaintive discussions are all about how tired they are of not going anywhere. Not being able to do anything out in the world without feeling unsafe.  Maybe these discussions have finally gotten to me.

The next day I happened to see at least half a dozen friends’ posts about their trips to far-off places where masks are not seen as often as we wear them. Meanwhile, M. and I and the dogs cancelled our trip to our hometown last month because we want to remain safe.

I am trying hard to understand their thinking.

Are they not afraid of a breakthrough infection? Do they believe vaccination protects them from anything more than the symptoms of a bad cold?  Does it not worry them that they could get sick in a country that might not have the same medical care they have at home? Do they not see the posts and news stories I do about how sick people are getting, even those who are vaccinated?

I want to do what they are doing. But I’m afraid to.

We’ve talked about splurging on a two-night stay at a fancy hotel on the coast. We’ll probably do that.

Also under discussion is a Christmas trip post-booster to our home on the east coast and staying a few months. Even if it means not seeing anyone.

But then again, it’ll be winter in upstate New York. Cold. Probably snow. Is this even smart?

But there’s a macro view, too.

Our world is a real shithole right now. Yes, it has good bones. And could be beautiful. Once again.

I’m not sure we have what it takes to make this place beautiful again.

Do we?
Find our beautiful, supportive grief and healing tools at


12 comments on “How can we make this place beautiful?
  1. Susan Cooper says:

    We struggle with the same questions and concerns. We had planned attending our granddaughter’s wedding this coming November. Because of changed circumstances and no Moderns booster available in time, we are broken hearted we won’t be able to attend. We limit our activities to safe places, short trips by car, safe friends and the ever present zoom calls. We ask ourselves, is this our new reality? Sigh!

  2. Diane says:

    I still believe in us, Carol. In that 50% who are willing to work. Who never give up. We do get weary and sometimes one just want to lay down and never have to get up again, but I’m determined to make my tiny spot of the world beautiful. Take my hand! We’re stronger together!

  3. Lynda Beth Unkeless says:

    I am flying to Dublin, Ireland next week to celebrate my 68th birthday. I know that I could get sick and die, and even so, I do not want to live in fear of doing or delaying anything anymore.

    Overcoming two brain tumors and surgery and radiation at age 62 taught me that life can “change on a dime”!

    I choose to live facing my fears (real and imagined) with awareness and humility. Even if I take necessary precautions, (I have two vaccinations and the booster shot) I have very little control over what will be my end.

    Carpe Diem! Be Here Now!
    From The Ancients to Ram Dass,
    living well may be the best revenge.
    And every person has a different definition of what constitutes
    The Good Life.??

  4. I live in the south, and it’s dismaying how many people don’t take the pandemic seriously. But I get out, masked, distanced. Not a lot, but I’ve worked from home for 25 years, so not much less than my normal. You’re not alone in this tangle of feelings and frustration.

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    We may go to Mexico in February and I’m already getting nervous. Randy is braver than me, but I still worry. I understand your hesitation.

    • We did book two nights in Pacific Grove, about 80. miles away, at the Inn at Spanish Bay. Staff wears masks, we have a room on the ocean so we will patio dine or in room dine, walk the coast and read. I am just happy to get away to a lovely spot.

  6. I’m getting my booster next month. I went to Mexico where they were much more careful about COVID than we are here at least where I was. We are very careful here in Los Angeles. Everyone wears masks inside and outside if there are people around. Still, you have to live your life. Just be super careful.

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