How Are You?
I have asked that question a lot lately. People usually say something along the lines of fine or okay. I am never quite sure they are telling me the complete truth, but I assume they are at least fifty percent fine or okay, and are willing to settle for that being their status.
Did you imagine yourself living through a pandemic? I did not. But as I write that question, I am well aware of how wonderful it is to be “living” through this pandemic, and not have become a statistic, with my name listed in a column of those who perished.
I do think about those who have died, especially those who were not fighting a chronic illness, and did not expect that 2020 would be the year their story ended. Did they have any warning? Were they able to get their affairs in order? Did they get to say good-bye? Were they able to make peace with their Maker?
It is impossible not to take note of all of the people who have succumbed to covid-19, or to thank God when I realize someone I love has survived. Nor can I escape the fragility of life; and how completely powerless I feel over what happens next.
Did you used to feel more powerful? I used to make a lot of plans; maybe not as many as I should, but I did always have “to do” and “to go” lists, which I was working on. There were things I wanted or planned to do, and places I wanted to go; usually that list was attached to people, which I either knew personally, or admired for their professional accomplishments. But some things have changed; I can no longer imagine going to Chile, for example, just to see Pablo Neruda’s home. Has your life changed too? What has surprised you the most?
I am most surprised by people. It seems like peoples true characters have come out of hiding, as defenses and pretenses, have both been dropped.
Also, I am surprised that I am not rolling bandages, or passing out coffee and doughnuts, or even hiding anyone in my basement or attic. You know I always figured, if I was involved in something, which impacted the entire world, turned our economic life upside down, created a situation where I would feel lucky if I could buy overpriced tea, and it was defined by a death toll and me not being able to spend times with those I loved, that I would be doing a little more than just “staying home”.
The pandemic has not come to an end, but some curves have been flattened, and many places are not just talking about re-opening, but actually are starting to come back to life. Does that make you feel better? I am concerned that it is too soon; I hope those dreaded numbers do not go up again. But it is impossible not to want it all to be okay, and for the world to mostly come back to what it was and what I knew.
However, regardless of what those in power say, I do not feel like I can go into the bank, and maybe say hi to Nicole; then go on to Savers or the mall, before going onto Trader Joe’s and then Market Basket. Nor do I feel like I can get in my car head anywhere out of state, though I do imagine some may want to tell me that I need to go out and spend money.
A certain innocence is gone, which I do not think will ever return, regardless of what anyone says. I will admit that the older I get, the more cautions I am; but this is something else entirely.
The reality of the invisible boogie-man cannot be ignored. We no longer live in a world where something bad might happen if you go sky diving to mountain climbing, but going to the grocery store or a family gathering is now something, which we will feel apprehensive about, even if only slightly. We will not be able to ignore the stories of people dying because they went to a birthday party or a wedding, innocuous activities which used to have almost no risk associated with them. For a good long while, we will have to think twice about what we do, and who we see. We will not want to wonder if that person is symptom free, or has been quarantined for 14 days, or if their cough is hay fever or something else, but we will.
But alas, not everything which as come from these days is bad; one of the good things, which I will be taking from this pandemic, and applying to that other life is paying more attention to the notion of “keeping” the Sabbath. It has become more important than ever, to have a day set aside, where we step back and change our focus.
In fact, as I see the photographs of views unobstructed by pollution or wildlife coming out of hiding; I think maybe we could all do with a day of rest. A time where we stop running errands, doing chores, and attacking our “to do” lists, to instead spend time connecting with those we love and appreciating the beauty of nature.
These are unprecedented days for most of us; we are all trying to figure out, the best way to cope and not hurt anyone else, as we go forward. I know that being more considerate, grateful, and kind, has made an impact in the world. I hope we do not quickly forget that our actions matter, especially to those we love. Meanwhile, I do care how you are, and hope you are well my friends; that is all for now.