Happy New World — Life in the Age of Covid
So, we are all tired of ‘it’, however we define it. We go to shop, get out of the car and realize we have to put the mask on. Where is it? On the car seat? No. In the handbag? Fumble a bit and come out with two, one in rather bad shape and the one that is in the little plastic bag just a bit big, making it impossible to wear our glasses, as it goes up against them. We mutter whatever is our form of a curse as we start walking to the entrance door.
Of course, some of us, refuse to wear masks and, as we drive, turn our heads in disgust at the sight of the supermarket that refused to let us in months ago, one we have never gone into since.
Inside, masked and unmasked we head towards the dairy section. Our favorite gallon of milk is not there! Again! It reminds us that our favorite paper towels have not been on the shelves for months. And the petfood section looks rather empty! Too many people have been getting dogs to make up for contact with other humans, and some have already let them loose as they just were not meant to be with four legged companions. Poor creatures both. Of course, you and I are not like that, and we now have to either pick up a brand we don’t fancy or try another store.
Of course, we can always order online. There are so many things we can get that way, but, as far as dog food is concerned, it is pressing. We only have enough left for Fido’s next meal. Hey, we’ve taken to ordering a lot of things online, from new sheets for the bed we have been spending an unusual amount of time in to running shoes for the turn around the park, one of the few places where we most people’s faces are still there for us to see. We’re getting pretty good at it, so good that it is taking more and more time for what we ordered to get to us.
It seems that there are just not enough drivers to bring those things to our doors. They say it is because they are not paid enough. However, looking at the way a neighbor was happy to not have worked for four months and been able to get her house in order and simply enjoy watching things out the window, isn’t there is more to that?
We may gripe but there are some positive aspects to this new ‘age’. We’ve gotten to enjoy our apartments and homes a bit more. That is rather obvious when I walk with the dog and see so much work being done on houses. Of course, one has to have the means to do it, but with savings from fewer trips to the restaurant as a result of various lockdowns and fears, fewer clothes being bought for the office and events, fewer trips, this has been available to quite a few households.
We’ve learned to use our electronic media to connect us with meetings on Zoom and other platforms. We have missed sitting down with our buddies from college at reunions but rediscovered ones we had forgotten because they moved and were now in some land across the ocean. We’ve had virtual reunions with them, seeing the interior of their rooms half the globe away as we chatted in groups. One such meeting I attended included alums stretching from India to California!
This is now our third year with this type of coronavirus. Remember about a third of our common colds come from a coronavirus, albeit a different type. Of course, SARS which was much more deadly came from yet another type.
Had this particular coronavirus lasted for two, three months, we would have gone back to our former ways. However, it has been with us much longer and has created new daily life patterns. Whatever happens when it is ‘over’ or more likely under ‘greater control’, we will have some ingrained patterns that we will carry on with until the next long-term disruption brings in a newer set.
For those of you, who like me, are over seventy, this is not your first life changing disruption. Though we, boomers, heard about World War I, the Great Depression and World War II, those events were basically stories, ones that we saw on screen in movies like The Guns of Navarone. Our real first disruption, in spite of the memories of the 1960’s student protests, was the Vietnam War and its bleak aftermath. Our second was the euphoria at the fall of the Soviet Union and the incredible strides in artificial intelligence and leaps in worldwide electronic communications in the 1990s.
But for those of you who are in their thirties and forties, your first disruption occurred in 2001. Do you remember the pre-nine-eleven world? There were no electronic devices checking you at airports. There were fewer gates to go through in buildings. There were more ways to disappear if you wanted to do that. But, unless you really want to disappear, you have gotten used to the various checks. It hadn’t prevented us from travelling. In fact, according to the Statista research department the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide reached nearly 1.5 billion in 2019, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2010. By the way there were less than 700 million in 2000. For those who are teens today and younger, that ‘momentous, life changing event’ is a story, one told by you, me and our media.
And, then, finally, what does this represent to you? For five year olds, two years is forty percent of their lives. For them masks are the norm, unless you have refused them. For ten year olds, this represents twenty percent of their lives, and they remember when school and studying were rather different, but they have games, and friends, and see grandma and grandpa again. For twenty year olds this is just ten percent of their lives, but do you remember how long a month without your friends was? The teens and the twenties are such crucial times, determining so much of our future. At forty, two years is five percent, and you can’t wait to go back to the routines that you are used to as you have so many obligations. At sixty, it is just over three percent, but having been through quite a bit, you are more philosophical about this. At eighty, it is but two and a half percent. Besides, you have so many memories behind you, and most often a much calmer life than before. This has changed some of your daily routines but, unless you have been personally touched, your life is not that different from what it used to be. Of course, these are but generalities, but I have not seen them being brought up.
So, when you go to the store and cannot find cream cheese for that cheesecake you wanted to make, try to see if there is some ricotta. It makes a much lighter but delightful cake, one that will help with your blood pressure and with your waist, yet one you can enjoy with every bite. And enjoy your dog if you got one for the pandemic. After all, you have to walk him every day and that will help you, too. Remember, in 2050 this pandemic will just be a story, one you will tell to yours in all ways available at that time.
Happy New World.