Soon after we got to Michigan, we began seeing small stones like this placed in conspicuous spots in our neighborhood. Each one had a reassuring message, such as “Peace.” (The “Peace” stone appeared one morning at the edge of our terraced parking area and is still there, one year on.)
The crude artistry of one stone assuring me that “The sun will continue to rise,” impressed me. But its concluding assertion, “you’ve got this”? That gave me pause.
The conditions of a pandemic make individual influence fairly irrelevant. No one person can manage or wrangle the Virus into submission. This fact is prompting a palpable crisis in contemporary culture, where individual freedom and the miraculous potentialities of positive thought are ideals touted above everything. I can keep myself safe and try to help others, but beyond that I must powerlessly accept that a novel airborne illness is sickening human society, all but stifling most of the customs that it holds dear.
If only “you’ve got this” were a nod to collective unity! Standing in the center of an empty road, looking at the brave little stone that some stranger had painted and set out for other strangers to see, I was fairly confident of being alone with my thoughts. The stone was intended to mean no such thing. There is no solidarity here, no practical community, but one household, at least, is bent on communicating “good vibes” to the rest of us via painted stones.