Where Are We?

This picture above was taken while I was watching my first live cricket match in a park in Edinburgh. It’s a look of pure confusion, I know. It’s also a look I have on my face frequently these days, in what passes for the tale end of the Covid-19 quarantines. With talk of opening up the economy again, I see folks all around me who seem to think that we are back to business as usual, and that causes me as much confusion as cricket.

Don’t get me wrong. I hear the fear-based anger of folks demanding to go back to work. They have to have money to pay bills, and the government stimulus bucks only go so far, especially if you have kids. And I know that we cannot take forever to get things running again. I look at my retirement money and wish my future income wasn’t so tied to the stock market’s well-being. I have wished that for years, remembering how my accounts took huge hits in 2008, but I trusted that business would go on and that they’d grow again. They did.

But my real sense of confusion stays with me because I do not see any signs that the coronavirus is in any way finished, even if social distancing has let its growth plateau here in Kentucky. It’s around and I don’t see how it will not stay around for a long time yet with so many opportunities to spread. When it does, some people will die because of it.

Truthfully, looking at its symptoms, I think I had it—or one of its variants, which nudges me with more concern—last Christmas. My symptoms were common, and even my doc said that I was going through a virus of some kind and all I could do was let it run its course. It did, and I remain pretty healthy for a 66 year old who is treated for hypertention.

It’s just that no experts really have a handle on this disease, yet. I can practically hear them scrambling to find a cure, a vaccine, at least, and even make widespread testing available. Like I said, when and if I get a serology test, I expect to hear, “Congrats! You had it once,” yet no one can tell me if that’s going to do any good. Immunity is questionable, as it always should have been.

So, the confused face returns each morning, especially when I see folks rushing to “normal,” thinking that they can’t or won’t get it, or that it doesn’t matter. I don’t think that there is a normal now that doesn’t include this virus. We certainly never made the flu or the common cold go away, and the CDC website showed me that last year in the US, 88000 people died of the flu. We can all get that one, anytime, and it is lethal enough by itself. Here comes coronavirus, then, as the next layer of disease? That’s not a question to allay my confusion or to promote the idea that we can get to normal again. ”Normal,” I think, is a lie, especially if we think it means that we all can go to restaurants again and everything will be okay. That has not been a real possibility for any of us, and it will never be. This virus is giving us a good opportunity to question the notion of immunity to anything that can bring us down. So, shouldn’t we be looking at the real picture, rather than stressing over the picture that we want to see?

What I remain most confused about is how people can continue to believe in this thing that never really existed, normal, except in our privileged perspective that we can go on insulating ourselves from the bad things in the blind insistence that somebody will take care of it., that there will be immunity. With the spring sun shining and birds chirping, the specter of this virus needs to make us question the whole concept of immunity. Clearly, I don’t have the wherewithal to take that discussion very far. You may, however, not see my confused face that often, because I’ll be wearing a mask!

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