Life in the shadow of the virus

by Mar 16, 2020

We find ourselves in interesting and unexpected times. I must admit a couple of months ago I’d never expected to be uttering the word pandemic, much less living through one.

There is a lot of stress and anxiety in the people around me. I’m personally in a moderately higher risk group (almost 62 and diabetic), so this little critter definitely has my attention. Unlike a lot of people, I’ve been a remote worker for a a few years, so my office location and daily routines haven’t had to change, and “social distancing” is something I realize I’ve been practicing for a while, even if it’s a phrase I never heard used until recently.

Lots of things are changing around me, though, as we struggle to adapt and understand what’s best to do in these days of uncertainty. At a committee meeting I chair for a group I volunteer with, we had a big discussion of all this; end result is all group activities are cancelled into April, including one I was leading this weekend. Even though that was going to be outside, there is shared equipment — a spotting scope — that we’re frankly unsure what to do about and don’t feel comfortable with being able to sanitize between uses yet. So we’re still figuring it out but right now, even outside groups don’t seem safe, especially with shared gear and car-pooling.

A big challenge for many of these groups: we’re just rolling into a big fund-raising event of the year which, yes, involves lots of group outings. We have no idea what this means to revenues yet. But — there are lots of organizations you care for and small business that you visit and many are going to take it in the shorts here. Consider helping them out through this in some way, by donation, by buying gift certificates to use later, something… And if you are suddenly working from home instead of driving to the office, there’s that cost of commuting that went away, and maybe some of that money can go to helping others that are screwed by all this…

Mostly I’m trying to be supportive and — not positive, but calm — and be a good listener when worried people need an outlet. And help them understand all this a bit more as I can. Don’t be afraid to be afraid, but don’t let fear dominate, and realize everyone around you is probably in the same place, and be there for them, if only to let them toss some of that fear in your direction to get it off their shoulders. Just — duck and let it fly past, don’t take the burden on yourself instead.

We as a species and as a society will get through this. Society will be changed in unknown ways, but we should look for opportunity to influence that change to make things better. Individually, it seems clear not all of us will get through this alive, but I’m sending good thoughts to everyone out there to be part of the group that does.

Be careful, be safe, but don’t be paranoid, and take care of yourselves and those you care about.