In light of this coronavirus lockdown, social distancing and all the rest, I stumbled upon this thought this morning. I was imagining myself as an older John Prine who had not spent most of his life not writing songs. I was carefully strumming the guitar and allowing myself to think John Prine thoughts, or so I imagined, and in doing so let those pent up words and verses turn themselves into Oscar worthy songs.
Well, that never happened. But as my fingers loosened up on the strings, I remembered thinking, during my months as a surveyor for an engineering firm in the late 1960’s, that I hoped to reach 64 and still be able to play the guitar and hear the world around me.
To that end, I was one of the only people who wore ear protection when I used a chainsaw or brush cutter, so common when plotting out a subdivision in a heavily wooded area. My thought was that I would protect my body so that when I got older, there would still be something there to live for.
What I have come to understand since that time, and during this Covid-19 era, is that you really can’t totally protect yourself from everything that is going to happen around and to you. You can do your best to protect your hearing and then at 50 realize that tinnitus makes it sound like you are in a fall forest with the brittle leaves blowing against one another. And having said that, I do believe that my efforts to protect myself were not in vain—I just failed to take into consideration situations that were beyond my control or imagination.
And that is where we find ourselves today. Face masks either protect or they don’t (I guess there could be a middle ground). And if they do protect us is it you protecting yourself from me or me protecting myself from you or we are both protecting ourselves from one another. And what are we protecting ourselves from—that you might sneeze and that those droplets of viral infection might linger in the air that I unknowingly walk through.
In all of this, I doubt that we have all read the same articles and am reasonably sure that most of us are not on the same page when it comes to dealing with/understanding what is happening around us.
What I am almost positive about is the fact that none of us are 100% right or 100% wrong in the methods we have chosen to navigate this global storm.
Several years ago, a doctor who I highly respected told me that after 65 I should start getting the seasonal flu shot since our immunity is reduced (or so he said) as we age. Like I said, the guy was from Michigan (my home state) and seemingly read every analysis and medical report published. He had even stopped cholesterol testing in the blood work that he ordered for our annual check up. This because he believed that heart disease was mostly caused by inflammation and not cholesterol in our blood. What I have since learned is that he was correct about inflammation.
However, when it came to getting the flu shot, I took his word for a year or two and then after much research stopped getting one. When I did I made sure that I was getting the single dose version and not the bulk version with some sketchy preservatives. But then, after all that, you realize that the shot is only partially effective, that you have never had the flu, and that during flu season you wash you hands often and don’t pick your nose.
Not that any of that makes any difference in the overall scheme of things. The choices we make often have outcomes that, had we known at the time, might have affected our choices.
People die everyday because of bad habits—overeating, junk food, alcohol, drugs and the like. Good people get hit by drunk drivers, get cancer, and occasionally get hit by a bus.
Since Covid-19 has hit the scene and been politicized beyond measure, it is almost impossible to find a consensus about anything concerning this virus and the computer models that seem to propel the daily news. I read the other day that we have most certainly lowered the vehicle death rate during this crisis. And whether or not flattening the curve will prove effective or just serve to lengthen the time we have to live with this, has not been determined yet.
This is where things get dicey. I could go on a long time about what I have read and what I think about where things are at, heath and economy both considered, but I fear that the blowback would be significant and without any redeeming social value. A quick perusal of Facebook would be a case in point. People that haven’t hibernated or worn a mask or gotten within 6 feet of someone else have been called all sorts of stupid. We live in America and I am sure that some sort of forced vaccine will not be accepted. On the other hand, giving away some of your “rights” under the guise of big brother’s protection might be something that many would welcome.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and how soon we can let the millions who have lost their jobs get back to work and making a living. I could use a good burger and beer.