When I started this series of hand sketches, it was purely self-directed art therapy. I needed something to distract myself from the anxiety of living through a global pandemic. I didn’t want to take the time to think of something to draw, and I wanted to keep the materials simple so that I wouldn’t have to think too much about that, either. That was my only objective: Draw my hand every day to calm my mental agitation so that I could get on with ordinary tasks. Eventually, the art therapy was no longer necessary, but my commitment to continue drawing my hand each day took on a life of its own.
Like many sketchers who have been counting their days in pandemic isolation, I began numbering the drawings. As of Thursday, I was up to Day 67, but I don’t even know what I’m counting anymore. Washington State is undergoing a phased “Safe Start” reopening plan, and in some counties, the openings begin June 1. I suppose I could simply stop drawing my hand on whatever date King County, where I live, officially “opens up.” But we decided long ago that no matter what the “official” date is, we’re going to continue sheltering in place as long as necessary. Many things must occur before we’d feel safe enough to be out in public as we were “before.”
Will I keep drawing my hand every day until I feel safe enough to go out? Maybe I’ll just pick an arbitrary date and stop. Maybe I’ll just stop.
I read an article recently about how one of the most difficult things about living with a pandemic is that the enemy is silent and invisible, which provokes a constant state of low-level anxiety. Uncertainty is almost as unbearable as certainty.
There is no clear end date. I knew this from the beginning, yet on Day 67, the possibility of the end stretching further and further away is entirely present.
I just filled the last page in this colorful sketchbook. I’ll miss the brightly colored pages, but I’m very happy to put the book up on a shelf and start a new one. Unlike the virus, sketchbooks have clear first and last pages. Thank goodness not everything is indefinite.