Pandemic notes

By Jack Brezina

Some thoughts and musings as the selfisolation grinds on:

• I have found that it is best to limit the amount of pandemic “news” one consumes. Initially, it was hard not to hang on every word, every pronouncement, every piece of so-called breaking news as the gathering storm unfolded. Newspapers, radio, television, and of course the internet, were tapped for the latest updates. Drawn like a moth to a flame, I sought out every bit of advice and speculation. But like that hapless moth, I learned that the flame can burn as well as illuminate. I started to forego the daily briefings from Ottawa, Toronto, and especially Washington, relying on the aggregators to give me the highlights once or twice a day. I found a calming effect was the result of limiting my exposure to the sources I trusted and leaving the rest for others to fret about.

• Hats off to the staff in our grocery stores, who soldier on under very trying conditions. Thank goodness they are there to keep the shelves stocked, calculate our purchases and deliver orders to those who can’t or shouldn’t get out to shop. It must be intimidating to work, every day, in a situation surrounded by shoppers with masks and some without, those struggling hard to maintain the six feet of separation and those unaware how breaking that rule must make others feel. There are many frontline workers who deserve our admiration and thanks, but we often overlook or take for granted those who help to keep us fed. Thank you.

• Speaking of groceries, have you noticed how shopping has all of a sudden become a highlight of the week? And what is all this fuss about toilet paper? I admit I don’t want to run out either, but I am sure I won’t be needing a closet full of rolls in the next three or four weeks. While, at least it won’t spoil, toilet paper was far down my want list. I can think of many other things to consider stock-piling.

• Have you Zoomed lately? Zoom is not the first and only multiple participant communications platform, but it seems to have become the one everybody is talking about and using. I have birthday party Zoomed and read plays on Zoom and, well, attended meetings on Zoom or similar services. I have heard of church services and book clubs and online family gatherings congregating online. Tip: go to the bathroom before starting what you suspect will be a protracted online meeting.

• While I understand the concerns about straining the limited health and infrastructure resources we have here in the Highlands, I have sympathy for those city folk who decamped to the cottage for a couple of weeks or longer. If I was sheltering in place in the city, (especially with children), the open spaces and nostalgic draw of a cottage would be irresistible, particularly if “home” is in one of those apartment or condo towers. Confronted with the same options, most of us would choose to be here rather than in the city right now.

• It is the direct interpersonal contact I miss the most. On the occasional visits to the post office or the grocery store, there is an irresistible urge to talk with people, keeping the requisite six feet or more distancing, of course. The conversations for the most part aren’t deep or consequential to anything in particular, they are just interactions, basic human contact that has been stripped from our lives by the rules of the day. There is a hunger for that contact, however fleeting, that we instinctively sense is missing from our daily lives. Even a 30 second chat about the weather seems to provide a boost to the soul.

• Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m sure it is time to wash my hands.

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