Do your thoughts seem a little more philosophical than usual lately? About life and time and family and friendships and what it all means? Past events and decisions and how they shaped your life? The world and how we fit into it? The future… Welcome to this stay-at-home, slowed down, minimal-contact, previously unimaginable life in the time of the Coronavirus.
I’ve been thinking about time.
Time in the now: Without the obligations or appointments or social plans or deadlines. No pressure to be somewhere or meet someone to do something. It took a week or so to get used to it, but it has been pleasant and relaxing, yet strangely invigorating. Like getting a good night’s sleep after a period of insomnia.
Time in the future: When this pandemic first hit the collective consciousness, it was beyond my ability to imagine it could go on long-term. I felt shock at the speed with which the world shut down, but it still seemed like a novelty — a month or so of lock-down and then back to normal, definitely by summer. When we had to cancel all the reservations for our June trip to Boston to attend our grandson’s high school graduation, the long-term consequences began to seep into my still-resisting brain. All kinds of questions: how long does it take to develop, produce, and distribute a vaccine? How safe will it be to take it the first year or so? When will it be safe to fly? When can I travel to see my family, and how long do I have to wait to take that trip to Portugal that we’d planned for fall?
I’ve been thinking about changes.
Changes in our habits: I don’t know about you, but I won’t miss handshakes if they go away forever. Ditto hugs from strangers. And it would be a good thing if everyone continued the handwashing. I once saw a news story about a group of scientists that analyzed the microscopic yuck on those dishes of candies some restaurants set on their reception desks, and I’ve never been able to eat anything from that type of communal bowl since. Also, there is no reason for anyone to handle your credit cards besides you. Other countries make it mandatory for all restaurants, stores, etc. to bring a credit card machine to the customer so no one else touches it and it is never out of your sight.
Does anyone besides me have more food in their kitchen than ever before? I’ve always been a buy-what-you-need-when-you-need-it type of gal, so it’s a shock to open my cabinets and see all that food. Will I be a food hoarder from now on? Should I buy a larger freezer?
When will I be able to travel again? Although I must admit the idea of social distancing on a plane sounds wonderful, I don’t believe it will ever happen. I’ve been thinking about places in New Mexico I’ve never seen, as a substitute for Portugal and Wales and every other country on our hope-to list.
Have you noticed that social distancing is now a verb?
I read that excessive speeding has greatly increased, along with more highway accidents and deaths. In many places, citations for speeding have doubled. “People are doing it because they think they can get away with it,” says Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the Governors’ Highway Safety Assoc. Emptier streets and highways, boredom, emotional release from the current stress and pressures are possible causes. Apparently, speeding is like a drug to some people. And by the way, drinking and actual drug-taking are also increasing.
I’ve been thinking about patience.
Never one of my strong suits. But I think we all need to ramp up a little more patience than we usually have right now. I’ve had to be more patient with people calling into Rose Valley’s office. Many of them just want to talk to another human being. One guy called me while eating MacDonald’s in his car in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to check our availability and rates. I quickly realized he wasn’t making a reservation, just dreaming about escaping his present life.
Grocery stores are experiencing shortages (“I can’t find boxed wine to save my life,” a friend complained to me), puzzles are impossible to find, pet supplies must be backordered. But what is there that we can’t find that we really can’t live without? Be patient and it will all come back. Look at toilet paper — it’s back!!
Strange times can cause strange behaviors. The current uncertainty is making people fearful and feeling the need to exert some control. The temptation is to lash out at both friends and strangers when we see something we disagree with, to lecture and preach. It just makes things worse, so try not to do it. And try to be patient with those that do.
I watched the governor’s press conference yesterday and am so impressed with the thoughtfulness and competence of her administration during this crisis. The explanations from Governor Lujan Grisham and her health and medical people were based on science and easily understood. Her explanation for why wearing masks in public are important is the best I’ve heard and eliminated any doubts I’ve had. And I was so thoroughly impressed and entertained by her demonstration of how to easily make a mask out of a bandana-size piece of material without sewing that I immediately made some of my own and I love them. Check out her video on the NM State website.
One Last Thought
Nothing, even a pandemic, is all good or all bad. One positive result of our coronavirus experience is we’re all forcibly reminded that there is no way for anyone to predict the future. No sure thing exists, so live your life with as much joy and gratitude as possible, figure out what is really important to you, and don’t put off too many things that you could be enjoying right now.