Covid Comfort: Stories We Need Right Now

by | December 22, 2020 |

Title image: my physical notion of Covid comfort, namely a daily zoom yoga class.

In an earlier blog, I made the point about how whatever we were doing before the pandemic, we’re doing the opposite now. Most all of my pre-pandemic routines have changed. My eating habits have certainly changed. And just recently I noticed that so had my tastebuds. It stands to reason that my viewing and reading tastes have altered as well. I find now that I want less excitement and more comfort in the stories I read or watch. Call it Covid comfort.

Alyssa Rosenberg‘s op-ed in the Washington Post this week inspired this blog. In it she addresses our Covid-battered lives and our need for comfort. About which she writes: “Comfort isn’t merely the absence of agitation; it can be an active attempt to ease grief and pain.”

See: The most comforting movie of 2020 is about deafness, addiction and heavy metal. No, really

For Rosenberg the movie Sound of Metal provides this deeper comfort – this solace – we all now need. I had intended to watch the movie in any case. It involves a character who experiences sudden-onset deafness. So, I knew it would intersect with the deaf community. And I’ve long loved American Sign Language.

Covid Comfort: Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal is available on Amazon. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it without hesitation. Mostly because the actor, Riz Ahmed, who plays the main character, Ruben, is terrific.

I understand Rosenberg’s point that this is a story for our time. We have all experienced the sudden disruption of what we once took for granted. For Ruben it’s his hearing. For us, it’s moving freely in the world. And hugging friends and family without a further thought. Furthermore, we’re all having to find new ways to grieve our losses. And to move on.

But since this was a story about deafness, I knew the deaf community would be there to embrace him. And I knew that this community does not think deafness is a problem to be fixed. So, I wasn’t set up to map Ruben’s losses onto my experience.

Sidebar: Ruben is a musician. So hearing loss suggests the dual loss of identity and profession. But it is not irrelevant that Ruben is a drummer. He can still feel beats. And let’s not forget that Beethoven’s hearing loss did not prevent him from composing masterpieces. Plus, Beethoven’s Nightmare, the only all deaf band in the world, has been around for 30 years.)

Back to the story. In addition to the portrayal of the deaf community, I loved two other things about this movie:

One. The way it portrayed sound and silence pulled me in and kept me in. Ruben’s experiences with normal hearing, garbled understanding, complete hearing loss and the strange new world of sound provided by cochlear implants are wonderful. The final scene is divine. Covid comfort, for sure.

Two. Rosenberg is right about our need for comfort. I found it in the calm center of the movie. My point here is that the op-ed and the movie together gave me understanding of something else, namely my fascination with the BBC series, The Repair Shop.

Covid Comfort: The Repair Shop

My tag line “love, language, adventure … out of the ordinary” would seem to exclude, by definition, writing about a TV show.

Now all my adventures are taken seated in my armchair or on foot in my neighborhood. And I also now consider a TV show a reasonable subject to write about.

Here’s the premise of The Repair Shop: three people an episode bring in a beloved family heirloom. One that is in a state of disrepair. A broken antique toy. A dilapidated piece of furniture. A stopped clock. A torn painting. A chipped vase. A piece of damaged jewelry. The only requirements are that the items are beloved and have personal – that is to say, emotional – stories behind then.

And what do the skilled craftsmen and women do week after week? They repair the items. That’s it. Seriously. Zero drama. All gentle emotion. All warm camaraderie. And a few misty tears when the people reunite with their repaired personal treasures.

In Antiques Roadshow people discover items in their attics that turn out to be worth a lot of money. The Repair Shop is the opposite. The items the people bring in have family value only. And no money changes hands or is even talked about.

(I’ve read that the show suggests that the participants make a donation to charity. But they’re not required to do so.)

The Repair Shop has become a real hit in Britain, especially this year. And I, too, have been eating it up. All the while wondering why I loved it so much. But now I understand my simple desire to watch:

A broken beloved item repaired by skilled and loving hands.

Bone-deep Covid comfort!

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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