Until now I’ve been writing about the past, about my life going into The Pause, and I’ve left out any discussion of my current real-time reality; that ends today.
My intent has always been that the blog would delve into relevant past (The Boil), how those factors started to change during The Pause and then explore my new appreciation for the resulting new reality and health that has started to establish itself within me. I thought that my writing would would eventually catch up with the world’s current events, however reality hasn’t been cooperating or indulging my needs (heavy sarcasm here) by slowing the world down enough to allow me to get caught on my writing. A growing fear within me was that if I were to wait any longer for the right time, the right pace, the fragile artistry that had reawakened itself in the form of writing, was at high risk of withering once again into dormancy, unless I course corrected. To avoid this, believing Artistry a key element of my health, I’m going to attempt time jumping in my writing a bit sooner than intended.
With this post comes a taste of my life in its current reality; I won’t fully flesh out the details of what I discovered about myself coming out of The Boil just yet, or how the necessary changes were sparked during The Pause, but I will discuss in general terms COVID’s current impact on the world, and on my life and my health. Doing so now, instead of later, will hopefully help to foster and protect the seed of artistry that appears to finally be growing within me, perhaps as destined.
By mid June, The Pause, took on a different form. Restaurants, non-essential businesses, gyms, church gatherings, social activities, life, took a step back towards normalcy, and for many, we took the opportunity to drink it in, perhaps overindulging in the process. This fall schools reopened in September and many recreational programs resumed, including my own volunteer efforts.
Recently, nations around the world are seeing the impact of the anticipated second wave of COVID-19 (some countries are saying they’ve encountered their third). Not unsurprisingly, with fall’s arrival, we saw cases spiking again, accompanied by increased hospitalizations, intensive care cases, daily death totals rivaling and surpassing what we’d seen so far. Locally, the number of cases we face this fall are currently higher than they were when the first lock down was ordered just prior to springtime in March, or any time since. Physicians and scientists are speaking publicly about their fear that unless something changes soon, the new case counts in my own little neck of the planet will see as many as 2000 a day.
On October 31st, Halloween, I experienced an evening with a few moments of real joy in them; this was some much needed chicken soup for my soul, brought on thanks to a brief taste of something that actually neared the feeling of normalcy. Neighbourhood kids (and those from surrounding areas as the word is out, my neighbourhood does Halloween right) went door to door to Trick or Treat. It felt normal, COVID was almost something that could be forgotten. It felt so damn good to see more people on our street that evening than we’d seen in the prior seven months, and the weather was playing right along, it was beautifully warm. Kids were going door to door, with the reminder that all was not normal evident not from the masks they wore with their costumes, but from the non-medical ones they wore in addition. The kids were supervised by their parents, maintaining social distancing as they were, no doubt, highly motivated by knowing that if they did not follow the rules the evening might well end early for them, leaving them to go without the treats made available to those who did. Older kids, appeared to have avoided the outing this year judging by my so scientific comparison with previous years. My partner and I interacted with the parents who accompanied them with real happiness; we got to feel part of a community again, instead of a bunch of shut ins who just happen to share a similar postal code. While the evening might have not have been the same as those before COVID, I experienced and appreciated the moment unlike any other time in my adulthood before; I relished it and drank it in. I have a strong doubt that our realities will much will ever be identical to what they once were again, so in the moment to see and experience something so familiar and strongly linked to good memories of the past made the experience something I did not want to see end. Sadly, it did as our candy supply ran out and we needed to shut down.
Yesterday was Remembrance Day, which was unlike any that has been experienced since the Spanish Flu. Public ceremonies were small and sparsely attended by invited guests only. Many, like myself, now are turning our attention to the next big event, the Christmas season. The realization is settling in that the comfort and familiarity of gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season (something I now know I had come to take for granted) is impossible to revisit, and will very likely be the next in the long line of screw yous delivered by 2020.
Fall 2020 has seemed to barely lasted a moment, with an initial snowfall period of a week, followed by a melt, and more snow arriving with temperatures that feel as though winter has arrived a month early. I don’t hold up hope that this snow will be melting until spring.
Now, Italy has returned to a state of over 600 deaths occurring daily, but has yet to order a return to lock down, while the UK has already entered into a second lock down, for a month with consideration being given to extending it. Individual states in America, individual provinces in Canada, are electing to implement or tighten restrictions: reducing business hours, or closing non-essential business, asking that the size of social gatherings be reduced voluntarily, or as mandated. Restaurants and bars, already having lost their safer patio space to snowfall and cold, face the wintery months ahead with greater challenges that make it impossible for me to not wonder how many familiar haunts will not survive long enough to re-open their pop-up patios come springtime.
The inevitability of closure, of another shut down, feels as though it’s on the horizon again if not imminent. My small sense of relief comes from having been through something like this just a few months before, and I made it through, alive, and in one piece, if not somehow changed for the better. If a second Pause is to occur, I am more prepared, and I will find ways to make it work for me.
I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually be recognized along-side the World Wars and other multinational events that helped to define generations. If the generation born in the 1900s to 1920s became known as the Greatest Generation, the parents of the Boomers, what will those of us who embrace change and adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic emerge to be known as (please god, let it not be The ‘ronas).
I hope the welcome news that Pfizer has developed a potentially 90% effective vaccine becomes reality, allowing us to move closer to what we once knew and experienced as normal, but I do not want to, will not, forget the lessons learned during The Pause; they came with too high a price in human life and misery to go unheeded.