How Covid-19 Flattens Our Lives

Those of us who are still staying in to avoid contracting Covid-19 have noticed more than just the commonly described consequences: isolation, depression, boredom, loss of time sense, etc.

We entered lock down to “flatten the curve” and prevent Covid-19 from overwhelming hospitals.

emerald city, yellow brick road, wizard of ozOver eight weeks, the coronavirus has flattened our lives, removing the highs and leaving us only with the lows and a middle ground I think of as “Meh.” It’s like moving from Technicolor back to black and white or watching The Wizard of Oz, only in reverse as we drop from colorful Oz back to bleak, Depression-era Kansas.

The Highs and Lows

Normally, our lives have both highs and lows. Think of a sine wave as it curves Up, Middle, Down, Middle. Now cut off the top half and that’s what we live with every day.

Sometimes we have difficult days, filled with disappointments, bad news, worries, and unpleasant surprises. We endure them, aware that they won’t last and things will get to better sooner or later.

Other times are filled with joy: family reunions, wonderful news, new opportunities, and beautiful. We know these won’t last, either, but we can look forward to them and savor them in retrospect.

sine wave, steady stateIn between, we move through our normal daily lives. We plan for the future, treat ourselves to affordable comforts, go out to eat, catch a movie, get an ice cream cone, take a trip. We make the most from our days and do our best to have good lives.

With Covid-19 we just have “meh.”

The Un-Celebrations

In the last eight weeks, life’s milestones have slipped past almost unnoticed. Holidays went un-celebrated. There were no parades on St. Patrick’s Day, no Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day, no flowers and dinner out on Mother’s Day. Opening Day never opened for the baseball season.

Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox. American League EastReligious holy days also went by with minimal observance: We saw no bonnets on Easter, ate alone in homes for Ramadan, or eschewed family Passover seders.  Birthdays and anniversaries went without parties. Weddings were cancelled or held without guests or receptions. Loved ones who passed on were interred or cremated without eulogies, memorial services, or funerals. Only thick obituary pages marked their passing.

Like I said: Meh.

Not Acquainted with Death

While it’s true that Covid-19 is not as deadly as the Black Plague, the 1918 Spanish Flu, or tuberculosis, all of which killed (and TB is still killing) many more people worldwide, we also don’t wake up every morning thankful to not have the plague.

Unlike previous centuries, we don’t have a close acquaintance with death. Parents no longer have many children in the hope that a few will survive to adulthood. Loved ones no longer succumb to the long, slow death of tuberculosis. We understand about germs and viruses as well as the importance of cleanliness. We have antibiotics, vaccines, and medications of all kinds.

Our default mental state is life and happiness, not disease and death. That gives our current mental state even more impact.

Still Under Lockdown

Those of us who live in states still under partial or complete lockdown would love to have things open up again—if only it were safe to do so. My hair is shaggy, I miss my morning water aerobics classes, going to the the library, and leading tours. I look forward to meeting friends at a local restaurant.

When the Salk polio vaccine came out, we got that, too. Literally everyone knew some family or person affected by polio; after all, President Roosevelt became the poster child for polio when it was revealed after the war that he could not walk.

Kids being vaccinated with the Salk Vaccine

Put a safe vaccine out there and I will be among the first to take it. Life may never return to what we thought of as normal, but people are flexible and we will adjust. After all, we learned to take our shoes off in airport security lines after 9-11 and to show ID before getting past TSA agents.

In the meantime, I get up and go through another black-and-white day like everyone else in Massachusetts. Gov. Baker has lifted a few restrictions: the golfers are back on the first green behind my house. I never thought I would miss them.

Gradually, the sine wave will start moving up again, and rising faster once we have a vaccine.

One day—I hope not too far in the future—I’ll see you on the other side of “meh” and re-discover the colorful, shining Oz of a safer time

 

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