A perspective on the present
This morning I got up, I read the news as I made my coffee, I sat in my chair to read and write. All of this is just as I do every morning.
Outside it’s slightly overcast - unusual for Colorado to have three days like this in a row - and slightly chilly as always without the sun, but it’s still beautiful as I peek out my front window to see the tiny sliver of the Flatirons that constitutes my “view.”
It’s quiet around me except for cars passing by, the baseboards rattling as the heat kicks on, water occasionally running in the unit upstairs.
It’s the same as it always is, but yet I know it’s not.
Things feel surreal right now, don’t they? Odd in an almost indescribable kind of way.
Certainly unprecedented in our lifetimes.
Libraries are closing. An especially eerie knowledge as I’m in the midst of reading The Library Book, which describes how libraries are often havens during disasters. It seems now, however, that libraries have instead been deemed a hindrance.
Events and meetings and appointments are getting canceled, traveling severely limited or outright banned, schools closing, store shelves empty. There are weird emails in my inbox telling me how everyone is prioritizing safety - Southwest Airlines, Marriott International, Firestone, a spa I went to a couple of times, an online store that I don’t remember patronizing. There are articles appearing called “The Dos and Don’ts of Social Distancing.”
In all of it, there’s an underlying sense that people are holding their breath.
When will things return to normal?
I’ve been asked a couple of times recently what I thought of all these things. Is it hype? Are we panicking unnecessarily? Honestly, that’s usually how I tend to lean - that mostly people tend to get worked up over stuff that’s mostly nothing - but also at the time of asking, I hadn’t really put that much thought into it. I was watching from the sidelines; a spectator.
But as with most of us, I can’t help but contemplate it further as it’s become more and more present everywhere around me. And here’s how I’ve come to see it.
First, prevention is always preferable to treatment. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.* And while it all seems terribly disruptive to our busy, bustling culture, this is where our concentrated efforts will be most impactful. I believe our patience will be rewarded.
Second, viruses are awesomely cunning and they are always one step ahead of us humans. This is not alarmist, it’s the nature of our world. Luckily, most of the time, all we notice is a few sniffles. But when it’s more than that, it can’t be taken lightly.
And the reality is, we’ll never know if we’re overreacting. If we prevent illness it might be argued later that it never would have gotten that bad in the first place. But we have to do the best we can at all times with the information we have and frankly, the experts are warning that this seemingly overabundance of caution is not overreacting.
So, I guess for me, I just try to accept.
I try to accept the disappointment of not getting to attend an event I was truly looking forward to and the disruption to my normally busy season of work and the frustration of an appointment made three months ago that now needs to be rescheduled.
And I try to be grateful.
I try to be grateful that I am not quarantined on a cruise ship or otherwise away from my home, that I have not had my livelihood truly threatened, that it has not caused me illness, that it has not caused people I love illness.
I try to be compassionate.
I send my heart out to those who have been more affected and I remember that the best thing I can do for them right now is to keep myself healthy or to keep myself away from others if I am not.
And as I always do when things are hardest, I try to focus on how I woke up this morning.
The day came as it always does, I woke up and did what I always do. There is comfort in this if we’re willing to see it. There is comfort in routine and ordinary moments. There is comfort and peace in a slower rhythm of daily life.
I wish you all this comfort and peace.
Stay safe. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Also, I recommend the following article for a very matter-of-fact treatment of the situation:
Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus [Updated 3/14]
*Benjamin Franklin actually said this about fire safety; although, we often now use it as I do here, in reference to health.