Every time I think I see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, it turns out to be just another freight train heading straight at me.
The culture as a whole is beginning to fray around the edges, and I think I understand why. It does seem at times like we are now living in a dystopian Darwin-in-reverse universe.
Think about it. In 1955 an African American woman sitting in the wrong seat on a public bus could be arrested and thrown in jail. Today, civil disobedience can take the form of a walk along the beach.
Then there are the “models” predicting the pandemic’s consequences being cited by public officials: They haven’t been just wrong, they have in most cases been spectacularly wrong. The Irish in me wants to be careful and not proclaim for all to hear that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is nothing to worry about. That would be an open invitation for me to get a doozy of a dose of it.
It is serious; it is worse than the normal flu, but all that as a given, I’m still wondering why scientific models vary in their estimations of potential deaths in the millions of victims. If we used this kind of modeling to get to the moon, Neil Armstrong would have been the first man on the sun. I can’t wait — God willing — to read the book about this pandemic that will come out in about five years.
But for now, I must deal with the present, which means seeing people wearing masks inside their own cars or wearing masks at Home Depot that cover mouths but not noses. It means seeing people in grocery stores wearing gloves, as if these gloves had magical powers as their wearers go about touching every piece of produce in sight, and touch their own faces with gloved hands — as if the gloves weren’t just as potentially infected as their hands would be.
Then, of course, seeing all the discarded gloves and masks in the parking lots of grocery stores and home improvement stores causes my inner geezer to want to find somebody to shake a cane at.
I have stopped watching the news. It just doesn’t help. All news outlets seem deeply invested in presenting worst-case scenarios, and when a model, like the one that stated there would be 2.2 million dead Americans, is refuted by medical experts, the media moves on to the next model.
It is also difficult to deal with the ever-changing goal line. Every time we get close to one of the governments’ proposed “easing up” deadlines, it is moved back another two weeks. I have no way of knowing if this is sound civic responsibility or an overreaction.
That’s the problem with this thing: If it was an earthquake, things would be awful at first, and then things would start to get better. We are approaching day 60 and it is just as awful today as it was in the middle of March.
And then there is church, or the lack thereof. I have tried hard to “tune in” to streaming versions of the Mass. Try as I might, a livestreamed Mass cannot replace the real thing. I know I am not present in the same physical space as that consecrated host, and that barrier becomes, at least to me, just as spiritually distant as it is spatial.
On the other hand, we participated in Archbishop Gomez’s leading of the reconsecration of our country to the Blessed Mother, and that I found spiritually filling. It was beautiful and sublime. When it concluded I felt spiritually spent, always a good sign that I was paying attention.
I am no one to whine and complain. I am healthy, my family is healthy, we are observing, for the most part, all the strictures and regulations that our civic authorities have proscribed so far. But there are only so many old movies and old TV shows one can watch, and that’s saying a lot coming from somebody like me.
So, as I watch the umpteenth episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or begin yet another British-made mystery series, I will continue to look for that light at the end of the tunnel. As the formerly displaced Jewish people used to say, “Next year, Jerusalem!”
I will comfort myself by counting my blessings and knowing someday that light I see coming at me won’t be the 909 from Bakersfield.