The Beautiful Side of the Pandemic

There’s life in my neighborhood! Whole families strolling together. Neighbors I’ve never seen before are at the park flying kites or running alongside their pooch. Neighbors normally preoccupied with work thoughts are waving to me and grinning from across the street as I walk.
My neighborhood is quieter than I’ve ever heard it. The silence is sumptuous, the peace washing over me like a warm rain shower. The roads around my house, usually so jam packed with the typical daily LA traffic are now largely empty. It feels real. It feels right.
The Killers performed live from a bathroom in a Jimmy Kimmel YouTube video and they were a revelation, truly talented, no need for autotune or effects. Just solid musicianship.
I took out my Guild and played a few songs, the first time I’ve done that in months. The next day, I broke out my Tascam which has been collecting dust in my closet the last few years. I cleared out an area of the garage, placed the Tascam on a makeshift table near an outlet. I’m dying to write songs and record again.

In the 2 weeks I’ve been in self-quarantine, I’ve made a beautiful mosaic vase and have gotten more sleep than ever. I’m turning in most nights around 10pm, sleeping until 6am and loving it.

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Handmade stained-glass mosaic vase by Angel La Canfora

I’ve reconnected with some old, long lost friends. We’ve checked in, touched base, expressed concern. You really find out who your friends are in times of crisis. I have some great ones.
Gone is my existential angst, my tendency towards self-destruction, replaced with an appreciation of every moment. Why can’t I always be like this?
Why can’t WE always be like this?

Dear American Teenagers. A Letter…

Dear American Teenagers,

It’s not supposed to be like this.
This is not normal.
You are supposed to be able to go to school, free of heavy cares, so that you can concentrate on learning and growing.
I can’t imagine what you must be thinking, how bewildered you must feel. How angry. How sad.
The government is letting you down – Republicans are afraid to stand up to the NRA, who lobby hard against gun control.
But the NRA line the pockets of the craven, spineless conservatives, who in turn throw up their hands and walk away from the issue.
These people have put power, profit and greed before your well-being.
I’m so sorry.
This is why it’s important that, once you come of age, you remember who is to blame for these shootings, these recurring, preventable tragedies.
One day soon you will be able to make your voice heard with a ballot.
You will be responsible for electing the nation’s leaders.
You’ll have to put your foot down, raise your voices loud, perhaps even take to the streets with signs and chants.
It’s looking like it’s going to be up to you to bring about change.
I’m so sorry for this heavy burden.
But know that millions of people, throughout the country and beyond, are behind you.
Are there for you.
It’s not supposed to be like this.
With love,
Angel La Canfora

On What Makes us Human…

In an ancient lakebed in southern Australia some 42,000 years ago, the body of one very tall man was carefully placed in what anthropologists believe is the oldest intentional Homo sapiens burial site. Although it is now known that even our ancestral kin, the neanderthals, also buried their dead with care, laying personal artifacts such as stone tools beside them in their graves.

Along with our big brain cases and opposable thumbs, another characteristic of Homo sapiens that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ritualized mourning of the deceased. The behavior humans exhibit when grieving for their dead, behavior that is commonplace in just about every culture around the globe, is illustrative of conscience and sympathy, sensitivity and depth of feeling.

We humans take our dead, encase them and lower their boxed body into the ground. We pray or chant, lay flowers on their grave. Or, alternately, the deceased is placed in a kiln, reduced to ash then set adrift on a breeze or enveloped in porcelain and placed on a mantle. But the soul of the dead cannot be contained and evaporates, squelched by a lack of electrical pulses.

I believe we lose two people with each person’s death: The outer self and the inner one. We lose the fleshy person we hugged, loved and laughed with in life. And we lose the secret, internal person, who existed with private fears, loves unrequited, dreams yet attained-their unshared stories, real and imagined, forever lost.

We Homo sapiens  demonstrate respect for life by respecting our dead. Conversely, we demonstrate respect for the dead when we respect the living. And we do this in the wake of the loss of a loved one by bringing together family and community to mourn and share their grief. This is what separates man from beasts. This lay at the very heart of culture and civilization.

Sunset in the high desert. Ranchita, California. Photo by Angel La Canfora.

Sunset in the high desert. Ranchita, California. Photo by Angel La Canfora.