Not nothing

April 16, 2020

There are authors I enjoy for the stories they craft — and then there are authors I love because of how they write. These are the authors who could write about watching paint dry and I would still read it. Lily King is becoming one of those authors for me, and I just finished her most recent novel, Writers & Lovers.

Toward the end of the book, the protagonist is meeting with her therapist. After he recounts all that’s happened in her life in the last few months:

“I don’t know, my friend. This is not nothing.” Of all his strange responses, this is the one that helps me the most. This is not nothing.

I spent the first few weeks of quarantine both feeling like it was really hard and feeling ashamed that it was so hard. I shook my head at my own lack of resiliency. We’re not in a war zone; no one in my family is sick; we haven’t lost our home or our jobs; the empty shelf-stable food aisles at the grocery store don’t count as a famine. If the bottom tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is covered, I should be fine.

And yet, I’m not fine.

But I’ve let myself acknowledge that this is not nothing. And of all the strange responses, this is the one that helps me the most.

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