As I sit on my island, jotting these notes, it occurs to me that I have a quandary which will be familiar to anyone working in history or the classics. It has to do with the attribution of dates. To be precise, what day is this?
I know of course that it is a Thursday (unless you are reading this in Australia in which case thank you). As the legend above says, I even have the date right, don’t I? But is this really Day 10 of our exile?
I began writing these Notes on what seemed at the time a simple milestone. It was the date of the official shelter-in-place order for Dallas County. Even this order was revision of an earlier one which began almost a week before. The first version closed the restaurants from dining in but left stores open. The second one was the one that made the distinction between ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ stores and restricted outside gatherings.
For people in some states, or even some adjacent counties in Texas, the days on these posts have no meaning at all since they are, as of this writing, under minimal restrictions at all (aside from the closing of mass entertainment venues like movies or sports arenas). How this is possible despite all the trending data is unfathomable to me, but that is an article I don’t have the stomach to write.
For still others, the restrictions have gone on much longer and much stricter. I have friends who have been in voluntary enisling since the first cases were reported in this country, either for health reasons or from a wise abundance of caution. Some areas, like New York or California (be strong, my hearties!) reached critical points earlier and so are well ahead in their lockdown timers.
Is the lesson that although we can tell time on our own islands, but we can’t always document the passing of the days – like some sort of pre-Einsteinian quantum experiment? Or is the lesson that while we can share incidents, even on a global basis, no two people can ever have the same experience? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Our calendars are for counting down. The number of days in pales in significance to the anticipated date of release, whenever that may be.
Meantime, I will let my own ‘Mankin-ian’ Calendar run. At some point if I can get enough cardinals together in a small chapel, we can plan a revision if necessary. Maybe add an entry (a ‘leap-blog’?) or skip a counting day or two (Was it Pratchett’s “Thief of Time” where they talked about having to patch together the fabric of time, so they elided a few days in the Dark Ages figuring no one would notice or care?).
If my calendar seems different than yours, I apologize. I look forward to the time when we can sit together and justify.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]