What Now?

If you are anything like Oldereyes, you watched the coronavirus lockdown roll over us in amazement. I had already posted WHO Says, commenting on how we ALWAYS overreact to health threats in a predictable way. The first thing that made me realize that this wasn’t going to be predictable was when the NBA shut down the season … and cancelled one game about to get underway (sending home the booing spectators). The news quickly reported the cancellation of numerous other staples of American life. Reports began to circulate about people hoarding toilet paper and beans, which I thought was hysterical. I began work on a second snarky post about our collective reaction to the virus to be titled either Hyperbolic Hysteria or Et Tu CDC (two great titles that will probably never be used). That unfinished post included the observation that a good thing about the virus is it pushed climate change and the ubiquitous Greta Thunberg off the news. I thought that was funny, too.

Then I went to the market for milk. Not only was there no milk, there were empty or nearly empty shelves throughout the store. I hate to admit it, but I was gripped by a mild panic and went on a multistore shopping expedition, stocking up on things we needed. Even Oldereyes has to eat (and wipe), you know. Over the next 24 hours, I watched in amazement as public facilities … including our library and rec center, staples of our routine … closed. I watched the stock market plunge, thankful that I didn’t need to make any withdrawals from my IRAs this year. I watched our president try to minimize the situation, then cancel flights for Europe and declare a notional emergency over what he’d said a few days ago wasn’t. But some things were predictable. Politicians did what they do with everything these days, making the health of our nation a political issue. And our news media flooded the internet with hysterical reports and quotes from anyone who had something to say, favoring, of course, the dire predictions.

I may be a minority, but I still think this was an overreaction (and I’m 75, an age group that the news keeps breathlessly reminding me is at greatest risk). Here in Utah, where there are 35 confirmed cases, people are self-quarantining, avoiding social contact, and keeping a six-foot distance. Except of course when they go to the crowded

markets in search of more supplies to hoard. I know many people believe that there are more undocumented cases out there and there are plenty of headline-seeking guessstimators who support that view. I’m not so sure. And it bothers me the way this whole situation came about. The first major cancellation was made by the Commissioner of the NBA for Pete’s sake and most of the rest by bureaucrats and politicians more versed in the art of looking like a leader than the facts about the virus itself. And the reaction of our citizenry is, to put it mildly, disappointing. Whether the coronavirus outbreak turns out to be severe or mild, our collective hysteria will cause as much damage … social, economic, mental and physical … to our country as the virus itself. For me, it shows a side of our nation I like to pretend doesn’t exist, a ME FIRST approach to life.

So, What Now for Oldereyes? I am at my best when I practice acceptance … acceptance of life as it is. We all live, we all get sick sometimes and we all will die of something. If I’m going to die of COVID-19, I’m not going to make it the center of my life until that day comes, I’m not going to run from store to store, grabbing up toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I’m going to keep track of the virus from responsible news sources once a day and not believe anything I read about it on social media. I’m going to do as many of the things I love as the cancellations and closures allow. I can still write, listen to music, check books out from the library on my Kindle, and walk in the crisp winter air, admiring the snow in the mountains. I am going to wash my hands more often and try not to touch my face. I am going to continue post my Coronavirus Idiot of the Day on Facebook but I will try to discourage awfulizing online and in person. I will hold it against any politician who tries to use the virus for for political purposes. I will play by the rules lightly not obsessively.

Yesterday, I was in a Walmart getting some things we needed. Many shelves were empty and people were wandering around with THAT LOOK in their eyes, grabbing multiple packages of anything they could find. As I was standing in the checkout line a young woman (they all seem young these days) was behind me. She had three large packages of toilet paper in her cart. How did you find toilet paper?, I asked. Oh, you just have to be there when they unload it she replied. Then, to my amazement, Would you like one package? We had not bought any so I said yes and she handed me one package. You made my day, I said. It is good to know that there are people like you out here. She smiled broadly and held up he hand for a high five. I returned it (yes I washed my hands when I got home). That’s the person I want to be.

Take care of yourself … but live life.

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