According to the public health John Hopkins Education May 24, 2022 article – Where We Are in the Pandemic by Lindsay Smith Rogers, Covid-19 is not over and will not be over at least for the foreseeable future. Yeah, that’s right, it is still here. And thus far we are not exactly sure what it is, let alone know how to learn to live with it. Some people have transitioned and learned to adapt and make the best of their situation. I would like to consider myself in this category. In some other countries, people have limited to no access to the vaccine. While others, although they have access, continued to insist that there is no virus or that using a mask violates their rights or that getting the vaccine is a government plot to control people, or that arriving at herd immunity will fix it – basically resistance to change in any way.
What science does know about the virus is, that it is constantly mutating, adjusting, maneuvering, and creating variations to ensure its existence. It would be nice if we could say the same thing about human beings. For a number of people, change and adapting are impregnable challenges. There’s this desire/longing to go back to the way it use to be. And not just around the “not having to wear a mask” or “getting vaccinated” thing, but more frighteningly the desire to go back to the way it used to be within our country with laws and way of life.
Honestly, can we go back to the way it use to be? This is an odd question and one when viewed through the eyes of science and even philosophically, is somewhat strange and dare I say absurd. Why would anyone want to go back to the past in any shape or form? Could we say that the past was “better” than now? Would we be willing to give up our movie/audio streaming services, our smartphones, our selfies, our cars, bikes, microwaves, electricity, running water, septic systems, and the global ability to share our opinions whether people wanted to hear them or not? Yes, I know there are those “types” who “remember a time” but how accurate is this remembrance?
The moment the CDC confirmed the United States laboratory-confirmed case of Covid 19 from samples taken on January 18, 2020 (from May 24, Where Are We in the Pandemic article by Lindsey Smith Rogers, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and released those findings to the public, I was certain that the past reinforces why we are here in the first place and with each moment we ignore the now, the deeper we dig the hole that we find ourselves stuck in.
How has the “now” of this pandemic affected me? What has been going on with me/us these last few years?
The first year and a half we primarily kept overly isolated and didn’t engage with other people except out of absolute necessity, such as the delivery of groceries and supplies. This was done using a home delivery service, for example, Instacart with a brave delivery person leaving it on our doorstep. When you think about it, we along with possibly half of America, played a huge part in the growth of Amazon’s stocks and profits.
We didn’t know how COVID 19 was transmitted. Air, drinking water, surfaces… Did it linger on our clothes, products? Everything and I mean everything was sprayed with a strong 99.9% alcohol-based spray before touching and storing. And always we wore our masks.
Our masks were the 3M N95. Fortunately, we were able to procure a large supply of what came to be, hard-to-find airflow protectors. We continue to wear them (ALWAYS) even now, particularly when we are in closed spaces. We never ate food from a restaurant fearing that perhaps it could be passed on that way. As the year progressed into the following year, 2021, we got bolder and ventured out to the supper market. These excursions were carefully scheduled at times when we felt there would be a scarce amount of people in these confined spaces. We started ordering take-out food, but microwaved it, just to be sure. Never, never in person contact other than food shopping, emergency dental and doctor appointments, everything else was done via Zoom. About seven months into the pandemic, I came down with Shingles and I was diagnosed using an online doctor and treated without ever having to leave the safety my house.
No movie theaters, no walks in the park. There is a beautiful trail near my house called the Ashokan Rail Trail. Before the pandemic, I would wake up around 5 am and drive over to walk eight miles of the 11 mile trail along the Ashokan Reservoir. One great benefit before the pandemic was that the area where we lived was not heavily populated and only became “crowded” during the summer months amid the tourist season. There was never anyone on the trail that early in the morning, whether it be on weekdays or weekends and especially not in the middle of the winter months. It was the early and latter part of winter when there wasn’t any ice or snow, that I would see the few and far between regulars running or bike riding. As the weather got warmer, the majority of locals would come out around 10 am and even then the trail remained relatively sparse with traffic.
However, that would change. The catastrophic and horrendous effects of this pandemic crippled the planet and left people having to make serious life-changing decisions. Whether forced or not, one of those outcomes was relocating. Woodstock/Hudson Valley area became a prime locale for the pandemic settlers. The newly resolved permanent residents “discovered” the trail and began running, biking and walking it with or without their dogs. Closely standing in groups talking, all without masks. Sadly, I gave that private oasis up but did go back the following winter when there was once again, no one around, especially early morning.
I was one of those that said if I only had the time to do this or that. Well I had the time and how exactly did I spend that time? Honestly I can say that I was quite productive, very busy. Travis and I were the few fortunate ones who were still employed throughout, could work from home and did not feel the financial strains that the majority of my artist and non-artist colleagues experienced. Even, now we spend a majority of our work day using Zoom and both of us participate in the new hybrid work environment where you go to work two or three days a week and the remaining days work from home.
All is not lost. The pandemic provided me with the time to explore in-depth, the interests that I’ve held for a very long time. I am grateful for the seclusion for writing poetry, and the confinement for finding the uniqueness in my environment through photography/videography. The proclivity toward robust dedication to writing songs and studying music. Yes, there is much to be thankful for. Considering a chunk of my time was given over to working “the job”, my awareness of that time was more acute and prompted me to value the passing of it with frugality and sharper focus.
Moving into the 3rd year, acknowledging the science of what this virus is and the ramifications as well as using common sense, we are cautiously beginning to engage more with other people, attending more events, going out to eat in restaurants, but most interestingly, stepping back into the land of gigs. Now at this juncture of the Summer of 22, we have begun performing a bit more and are continuing to find the way to truly live with Covid, keeping others safe as well as ourselves.