Introspection is the way of the day (and the days to come) as we practice social distancing. I am fortunate in that I am an avid introspection practitioner; first as a retiree, and then more intensely as a widowed retiree. Solitude is the introspection work place. I spend a lot of time relishing how very fortunate I am. I have a wonderful family, amazing friends, a comfortable home and more stuff than I care to admit to that provides material to ward off boredom… and worry.
Still, I am worried about the possible health impact of the coronavirus on friends and family, the economic impact of measures being taken to contain the virus and the impact of fear and greed that seem to always accompany uncertainty. It’s easy to avoid the source of the worry by avoiding news broadcasts and the newspaper, but for me that’s cowardly. In the last week I have vacillated between cowardly information avoidance, and non-cowardly information overload. I would love to fall back on the old adage, “keep calm and carry on,” but the carry-on aspect has been removed from available options as schools and businesses close in the interest of public health. The emphasis now must be on keep calm. I have a familial tremor, so even when I try to keep calm, it appears that I’m a nervous wreck, which does nothing to encourage calm in those around me. Social distancing is working in my favor when it comes to encouraging calm in my loved ones.
Other things, non-viral in nature, are impacting the ability of individuals to keep calm. This is not nice to us, as keeping calm while keeping the coronavirus contained is a Herculean activity. There was an earthquake in Salt Lake City last Wednesday (happily pals Shari, Steve and Sochi are okay). The tectonic plates were moving and shaking, carrying on with no respect for the attempt to keep calm already underway by Salt Lake City area residents.
Further aggravating things, nature, and the part of nature that is viral, have no appreciation for the current societal dependence on immediate gratification. The stock market [over]correction that has occurred in response to the coronavirus has made it tough on retirees, prospective retirees, stock brokers, companies and pretty much everybody to procure with any immediacy. Immediate gratification is more difficult when restaurants and breweries are closed. Wiping one’s bottom (a completely legitimate immediate gratification need) is more difficult when there’s, inexplicably, no toilet paper available.
The threat, tragically, goes beyond immediate gratification when people lose their source of income and are unable to pay their rent/mortgage, utilities and purchase groceries (the groceries that are available to be purchased). I am comforted by stories, when I allow myself to watch the news, of people and organizations that are stepping in to support individuals who are negatively impacted by virus-containment-related activity.
So for now, I will be inspired by those who have chosen to “keep calm” and CARE on. Our economy is as shaky as the ground was in Salt Lake City last Wednesday. In both situations the impact varies from person to person and place to place. I’ve heard many a hero say, “I’m no hero.” I wish that were the case for me. I am NO hero; I never have been. I will still look for ways to help. They will be teeny-tiny non-heroic ways. I’ll let someone else have the last package of toilet paper on the shelf, and hopefully I’ll help in other ways too. I believe that what is going to have the greatest impact now is the combined efforts of the many and of the multitude of unseen, unacknowledged acts of caring.