Suspended.... I respond from an initially very literal trees/leaves association. https://retrobarattheendofuniverse.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/suspense/ These leaves in the image in the link were from the fall of 2003, yet they still exist, pressed tightly within a book about 'remarkable' trees that my sister bought me in January 2004. If they hadn't had been suspended from their decomposition, who knows what they would have fed and in turn been part of, through becoming compost.
Observing something suspended from it's otherwise inevitable decline, inscribed into it's very life in the first place, has always been point from which signals of pain are received - at least in myself. For it is within the ruminations it causes that all of one's desires to see progress, and species success (our own species, of course), are suddenly challenged, deeply challenged, to the point where such desires can begin to seem futile.
It's funny (not 'haha funny' - to quote the Eels) to see so many people, perhaps for their first time, genuinely becoming aware of the fragility of society, whilst also, not for separate reasons, developing what some of us may call obsessive personal disorders (at least many will no doubt have such issues, once, or if, we do return to 'normality'). In late 2003, I was recovering from an eating disorder, which in itself was a product of wishing to suspend 2 things: 1, the inevitable ageing, 'fattening', and loss of youth that would eventually beset a body I clearly didn't like the 'inner' contents of, and 2: a chain reaction caused by the 9/11 terror spectacle, that made me all too aware of the fragility of civilisation, which I dealt with, emotionally, really poorly.
It makes no surprise I chose to preserve two leaves. Trees somewhat seemed then to be the compromise with decomposition and collapse; they could work for us, keeping things going. Everyone, I thought, perhaps naively, just needed to be kinder and more aware, and we could hold this whole thing in suspense. It was a case of wanting 'reality' to carry on, because I would have no idea how I would manage if 'reality' changed.
How will the rest of us, the social systems, cope, with a reality alteration? We are used to not even looking at reality, because we are in a culture that is always looking both in front of ourselves, in a case of where we feel we need to be, and at the back of ourselves, lamenting our past. 'Reality' is literally the gear-sticks that allow us to look back and forwards. But when the gear-sticks fail, what do we do? I used to day-dream about how we could better use our technologies to fire threatening asteroids away from earth, to turn all of energy production to the sun's solar rays, and much more. But I dealt with this by becoming desensitised; very much becoming depending on the convenience stores, the trains running, and the pubs being open, all the while upkeeping critical thought, dealing with abstractions rather than physically engaging with what they all relied upon.
Yet this thread isn't as simple as a binary between action and passivity, it's also about asking how we deal with the fact that nothing lasts forever, on a macro level, on the level of our entire civilisation. Do we find a way to exist in the moment, to deal with our existential fears, whilst still striving for the future? Is this even a question, or just a description of the human spirit? When not depressed and apathetic, we are slaves to improvement, even if the boulder we have been pushing up the hill has rolled all way back to the bottom, to refer to a famous story.