The Force of Each Other
So here we are, everyone’s stressed out, worried, preoccupied, and otherwise twitched and bewitched by what my friend Ken Duckworth calls “The Thing”. It’s all anyone talks about on TV or radio, and it’s pretty much the driver of most conversations elsewhere. The Thing.
But even before “The Thing” there was life interactive. Back then, BTT, before The Thing, we went to:
- church (well, my wife and I went to church, you may have gone somewhere else),
- hair salons (how on earth am I going to get my hair cut now?),
- we milled around in malls, and
- flew long flights in supersonic jets,
- we saw dentists and doctors for the now cancelled elective procedures, and
- lastly, we pretty much elected to do whatever we wanted.
Before The Thing – BTT:
- we did not fear other people within six feet of us, unless they were malodorous or menacing;
- likewise we did not fear making a transaction with cash;
- nor did we fear going to the dry cleaner or the cobbler or the fruit stand;
- we did not fear aerosols, droplets, or every sneeze and cough, at least most of us did not.
- finally, BTT we could breathe free.
But now, In the Age of The Thing, ITAOTT, pronounced eye-tah-ott, which rolls off the tongue more trippingly if you pronounce it EYE-dah-yott, now we see the face of things quite changed. The Thing has worked its way into our lives more intimately than any of us could ever have imagined. It’s changed our daily lives far more than 9/11 did. It’s the first global natural disaster most of us have ever lived through.
What to Do?
I wish I could tell you how to squelch The Thing. But I can only tell you what you already know: keep physical (not social!) distance; wash hands; wear a mask if you can find one or create one; and do your best not to leave your house.
It’s difficult to “fight” an invisible enemy against which your most powerful weapon is avoidance. We are accustomed, when we fight, to engage, to confront, and to battle, either physically or verbally. But now the very last thing we want to do is engage physically with this enemy; our verbal engagements only serve for us to blow off steam, fear, and anxiety.
Each day, we read the daily dismal stats. We get angry at policy-makers with whom we disagree, and we get inspired or at least comforted by policy-makers with whom we agree. Of course, we all love Dr. Fauci, so we all thank God that he is on the case. But even Dr. Fauci can’t wave a magic wand and make it all go back to BTT. We are left ITAOTT.
People Rising to the Occasion
Still, I can’t help but say this has all the makings of our finest hour, as:
- more and more people rise to the occasion,
- while more and more people put their lives on the line in high-risk essential jobs,
- and more and more people stay at home, find ways to secure additional income or make provisions for lost income;
- they manage to keep peace in the house and food on the table as the days march by, one at a time, with no real notion of an end-date.
We worry over and pray for the people who live in crowded housing who have no choice but to all but be on top of each other, or crowd into the one elevator in the fifteen story building that works. Additionally, we worry over and pray for the people we could normally roll up our sleeves and go help, but who we now have to steer clear of. Finally, we worry and pray also for our friends, our communities, and ourselves, knowing that even the safest among us is not safe.
What we have is what we’ve always had, only now, ITAOTT, it is different. It is called each other. Friends who do not usually call me or text me have been calling me and texting me. They have no idea what a pick-me-up that gives me. The patients I’ve been seeing remotely still engage with me, only remotely, and we get the work done without missing much of a beat. But it is different, and we both know it. I don’t know how my patients feel for sure, but I think we both feel proud of our ingenuity and glad that we haven’t let the virus stop us dead in our tracks.
Turning to Each Other
Fully mindful that is has stopped an awful lot of people dead, period, I still remind myself that it is each other to whom I turn. To whom we all turn. Imagine, wherever you are, turning your eyes around the world in your imagination, bringing to mind the billions of us who are all rooting together for each other. When was the last time that happened? The collective each other all rooting together for each other?
I don’t know about you, but I think that kind of rooting sets in motion a special kind of therapeutic force, a force of positive energy that can’t but do us all a pack of good. Let’s add to the force of science, the force of each other.
Here’s looking at you, kid.