A Writer's Pen
That is the way it is.
For as long as I recall, that's how it has been. Moments have appeared, of course, where that vow failed. Where I did not have a pen to write with. Where the pen was in my hand, but it didn't write.
Moments in history are marked by the written word. Journalists know and live this truth*.... (yes, truth matters. Facts matter. Alternate versions of both do not**.) ... [the fact that we have to emphasize this in 2020-21 is ridiculous, but the reality exists].
I carry a pen. Because I'm a writer. Because the written word matters. Because facts and details matter. Context is everything. Painting a picture with my words is what I've done, professionally and personally, for so long.
Words have painted a picture, opened a portal into the heart and mind. I've read what others have written with their own pens, even if those pens aren't physical but mental and those words have materialized from digital tools. The idea of what the pen provides has been a backbone of my existence, and for so many it shapes what we know.
So when 2020 began, that was the way it was.
And then, the year became what it did. COVID-19 became a common household term, one capturing attention and headlines and passions and grief so often. Each day, it was something new. While also some of the same.
Words mattered. And yet, too often, they did not. Truth wasn't truth, facts were not facts, and reality seemed to exist on multiple planes simultaneously.
And yet, I carried a pen. As writers do. Even when they write most of their words by keyboard. By mobile device and MacBook, When signatures and the written word, actually written, aren't as important as they once were when a virtual-everything is the reality.
In 2020, my became something more.
A global pandemic arose for the first time in a century, and with it precautions and safety protocols that limited our actions. Changed our mindsets. Made us hesitate before going out, and if we did made us mull how we interacted with others and navigated this world safely. Germs might exist in everything we touch, everyone we interact with physically, every air we breath without a facemask.
Touchscreens became a hesitation, at gas stations and liquor stores and grocery hubs and beyond.
Our "new normal" manifested itself in both brutal and subtle ways, from the people around us to the "clean pen" baskets atop our local brewery counter.
And so, my writer's pen took on a new meaning.
To write, of course. But also to tab the keys on the touchscreen.
In a time when we must grapple with the simple act of human connection and what it means to "social distance," this pen of mine became so much more than it had before.
With it, I chronicle my life and the history from this corner booth of the world. But also, I protect myself and others in health.
And tell the story for my fellow humans to read. Written words, transcribed by a pen, that I hold in my hand. No matter the amount of hand sanitizer and hand washing, this pen travels with me.
To tell stories, because words matter.