How are things in your corner of the coroniverse?
Yes, I did just coin a term to express how the coronavirus has transformed our entire world. At the same time it has changed each or our personal spheres, demanding adjustments and new behaviors.
What are we learning from this unique time? I know I’ve learned a lot about my fellow humans and myself. Maybe some of it will resonate with you.
1) I need other people — a lot. When I had normal access to friends and family, I tended to take it for granted. With socializing limited by COVID-19, however, I long for the “good old days” of casual meetings at the coffee shop or special occasion get-togethers with family. Who knows when these will return? On the other hand, though, every contact with others is now more precious than ever. Conversing with my neighbor as I walk by his front porch is important. Socially distanced visits with friends might be frustrating, but they are crucial. Human beings will do just about anything to maintain contact with each other, even if it involves sitting six feet away from your friends and wearing a mask. That’s how much we need each other.
2) I can adapt if I have to. During the first few weeks of quarantine I missed my weekly get-together with friends. We’ve compensated by meeting on Zoom. The first few virtual gatherings were a little awkward, but we’ve now gotten the hang of taking turns talking and giving each other equal time to share. (In person we took care of this by having simultaneous conversations, which doesn’t work as well on Zoom.) Is phoning family members really “the next best thing to being there,” as the television commercial used to say? Not really, but it can help. Maybe we’ve all learned to get more out of briefer contacts with each other, whether in person, via Internet platforms, or over the telephone.
3) Entertainment is a necessity, not a luxury. Books, television, and video streaming services are a sanity-saver at a time like this. Many of us have rediscovered reading—or are reading more than ever. I’ve always believed books are a way to burst your limits. Fiction is a passport into another world, and nonfiction can help us explore the world we live in. The many streaming video services like Netflix, Acorn, Disney Plus and others give us access to mysteries, documentaries, comedy and drama in a variety that we’ve never seen before. Feeling constrained by the virus? Escape into another world—or another person’s perspective—can put your own world to rights again.
4) I can deal with a little discomfort. I’ll admit it: I don’t like wearing a mask. But when I enter a shop or interact with others when social distancing is not possible, I don one. It’s a little uncomfortable, but studies show it really does limit the spread of the virus. Does a mask mandate tread on my rights? I don’t think so. Others have a right to breathe without inhaling my droplets, which might be virus-laden. I can breathe a little less freely if it will prevent someone else from having to breathe through a ventilator. It’s called caring about others, and it has always helped the human race move forward.
Moving forward is all we can do. We don’t know how long this new way of being will last. The current spike in coronavirus cases — nationally and locally — probably indicates that we relaxed restrictions a little too soon. Clearly, some citizens just aren’t taking contagion seriously enough.
Maybe it’s time to hearken back to an unfashionable concept: sacrifice. Instead of viewing wearing a mask and social distancing as restrictions on our rights, we can see them as something powerful to do for others. My generation’s parents gave up comfort, home — even their lives — to save their world from fascism. We can sacrifice a little convenience to save each other from a deadly virus. Now as then, life hangs in the balance. Let’s do this for each other.