June 16, 2020

I should have written a plague diary entry last night, but I was bone weary after a twelve hour work day. I don’t recall when I’ve had times where I’ve been as genuinely exhausted as I have from time to time over the last few months. I think it’s a perfectly normal phenomenon. Everything about life and all its certainties has been upended; little bits of stress seep into everything you do. Three months of unending stress, a lack of the usual activities that relieve stress, long work hours, and then a move added on top of all that when you can’t take any time off work is enough to flatten anyone I suppose.

A friend posed the question the other day asking if difficulties make you stronger. My answer to that is not really, I believe they make you more resilient and more able to roll with the punches that life is going to throw at you, but they don’t necessarily give you any additional strength. I’ve certainly had plenty of curve balls lobbed at me through life and I don’t think I’m any stronger than I was as a teen. I’m just a lot more prepared to bend and change and figure out what I need to absorb and what I can safely let go. I suppose it’s how I’ve made it this far. It’s the adaptable creature that survives, not the strong one under the theories of Darwinian evolution.

Speaking of moving, many of you have seen the video walkthrough I posted this weekend of the new condo. The remarks have been complimentary. Yes, I am my own decorator. I had some suggestions and help on the color scheme but the ultimate decisions were mine. I wonder how many picked up on my little joke with the colors. For those that didn’t, there’s one room for every color family of the rainbow. It is Pride month after all… I was able to pull it together so fast due to my wonderful crew of packing and moving elves headed by Holly McClendon. There’s still a lot to do in terms of getting books on the right shelves and media sorted and the closets are hiding a multitude of sins but it feels somewhat finished, and does what I want it to do – I want a space where people who enter can look around and get to know me in all my quirks and eccentricities.

So back to corona virus. The numbers of cases locally are accelerating like crazy. 5,000 new cases in Alabama and 400 in Jefferson county over the last week. UAB now has more inpatient Covid-19 sufferers than ever. And yet, the populace seems to have shrugged off the disease as yesterday’s news. Now that things have reopened somewhat, I see more and more people out and about without masks, hanging out in groups and in general living life as it used to be. They are mainly younger folk who aren’t hugely at risk for significant complications and I’m wondering if socially we are heading into a two tiered society of the young and healthy with minimal risk in one group living what we might consider a relatively normal life style and a more at risk group of older and chronically ill acting much more circumspectly. One wonders what a few years of that might do to politics and the economy. As someone whose age, profession, and general health status places him in the more at risk group, I can’t say I approve of what’s going on and worry that our already youth oriented culture may continue down that particular path in very unhealthy ways to the expense of empathy and wisdom.

When you look at the numbers nationally, especially when compared against other advanced societies, it becomes blatantly obvious that our government has completely abdicated its responsibility for keeping our population safe. The partisan politicization of science and expertise and the elevation of feeling and belief over fact and reason creates the perfect environment for a virus of this type to keep breeding and replicating and I don’t know that there’s a lot any of us can do as individuals about that. I keep my hands washed and sanitized and wear a mask in public and at work when with patients (which makes my job much harder – most older people rely at least partially on lip reading to hear properly) but there are times when I feel like I’m in a shrinking minority and I wonder just what motivates people? Are they thinking it’s over? (It’s not). Are they thinking they are not at risk? (They are). Are they thinking if no one else is, why should I? (My parents had a lot of pithy things to say about peer pressure when I was growing up).

Something that’s liable to happen is that those traveling on US passports will find themselves unwelcome to travel to other countries. The world will get a handle on the virus and travel will start up again, but will we be able to partake? If I were running the health ministry somewhere in Europe, I’d look at the US numbers and behavior and say no way Jose to those people coming here. That will come as a real shocker to most Americans of upper income who are used to coming and going across the world at will and put American business at a major disadvantage. You can only do so much over Zoom.

I have a new nest. I’m likely to spend a lot of hours in it as my plans for travel will be in abeyance and its unclear when the kinds of performance I participate in will be safe to resume. Time to put all that resilience to work. More writing? Something artistic? (I don’t generally do well with the visual art thing – most of my attempts look like they were done by someone with no arms or left foot). Perfecting my Xbox skills? Getting started on my retirement reading shelf? I imagine I’ll eventually figure it out. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to safely make the world a better place and try not to be too much fo the crochety old man railing at the young folks to get off his lawn while doing it.

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