I have an idea. (Cotton inspired it.)
Let’s run rings around each other.
We will get to rings of righteous Cotton momentarily. First, a science lesson.
When we all started talking about novel coronavirus, it triggered something dusty but still twitching in the back of my brain. Wasn’t a corona something else, something more shimmering? Wasn’t there a beautiful definition of “corona” back there somewhere?
Where others have made a sea of jokes about a different Corona, this particular dork was reminded not of breezy nights in college, but of eighth grade Earth Science. Since it’s been a long time since this particular dork was in eighth grade, I had to look it up.
And here you have it: a corona is not just a beer or a virus. A corona is a halo of light.
OK, Earth Science aces, you’re right; technically a corona is formed by the diffraction of light and a halo is caused by the refraction of light. But these are not times for fussing over ‘fractions. Either way, a corona is a ring of pale light.
Pale but present. Pastel but glowing.
And, most importantly: concentric.
Here I must call upon Tabby’s Place’s resident scientist, Cotton. (Qualification: Einstein hair.) Cotton has been conducting an intensive study on the nature of concentric circles.
When Cotton is inside his sleepy-time pen, he abides within its circle. Since Cotton is a madman, he scoots speedy circles within his circle. And since Cotton is the object of Olive‘s affection — yes, that Olive, yes, She Who Abhors All Catkind — Olive can often be found scooting an outer circle. When this occurs, inevitably human beans congregate to watch and coo and crack the heck up, forming — you got it — one more circle.
And suddenly, there is so much love and ridiculousness and light within these circles, you’ve got yourself a refracted, diffracted dazzle of delight.
But, true scholar that he is, Cotton is not content to restrict himself to a single style of circle. His current and most experimental research involves opening the circle — that is, the gate of his sleepy-pen — and stretching it far into the galaxy like a string. The halo becomes a streak, and so does the tiny peachy puff of a creature, now shooting up and down the Lobby’s length like a hairy meteor.
You must watch yourself and your feet and be ready to make haste when Cotton is conducting this research. He will race you and chase you and corona you in colossal light. Next thing you know, you’ll be glowing and giggling and losing a footrace to a cat with no back feet.
And before you can be embarrassed, others of your own species will appear, laughing with-not-at you. You will all feel warm and light and merry and…well, enhaloed, really.
Such is the power of the circle.
Even as I type these words, I’d give half my toilet paper supply to be back in that Lobby. Cotton’s routines have barely been interrupted — he’s likely tearing up the tile with glee as we speak — but yours and mine have, heavily. We’re missing our circles, the rings of people and rituals and magnificently mundane things that make us feel normal. We’re learning — as if it were the first time! — that “regular life” in all its ordinariness his highly underrated.
We need to circle up. We need to create coronas of the bright variety. We need to run rings around each other, a la Cotton, in the sense of “love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
Let’s find ways to hurl halos over each other like hula hoops today. Make that phone call. Fire up Skype. Send a hand-written letter. Nap with your cat. Stay home. (Seriously, it’s one of the most loving things we can all do right now.)
Hope may feel pastel when we’re yearning for our circles, but we can still make it glow, kittens. We’ll find our way in this trembling time. I’m counting on you, and you can count on me.
And we can always, always, always count on the cats.