I (and my family) have been extremely fortunate so far in this crisis:
- I have a relatively secure contract through at least early summer
- my wife is home full time but doesn’t have to work much so she has lots of time & motivation to spend with the kids
- as a teacher she is still getting paid, again at least through the end of the school year
- we have some savings
- we have some family money if it gets that bad
- we have a huge new house with a yard, so plenty of room for a family of five to keep themselves occupied without falling all over each other
- we live in a neighborhood with lots of amenities and nature within walking distance
- the weather has been great
- the city is not (yet) on full lockdown
- many of our ritual activities are still happening, albeit in abbreviated or remote forms (see photo above)
- most important: very few people I know have gotten sick (that I know of), and those that have seem to have very mild symptoms. (Of course, because there are so few test there is a lot of uncertainty around that)
Because I am so fortunate, I’m able to keep a kind of abstract perspective about the crisis as it unfolds. I am at least a month or two away from feeling any personal pain. I mention this because on a team call earlier this week I asked the team “how many people are experiencing more anxiety/panic/fear than they were two weeks ago” and most people raised their hands. I am not. If anything, I am feeling less; indeed almost none at all. I have slept soundly every night, and feel grounded and cheerful all day. This is in marked contrast to my usual mood for most of the last four years, especially the year or so after the 2016 election.
Don’t get me wrong: I certainly worry. And I certainly expect the worst possible outcomes. I expect that every day will be worse than the one before.
My analysis on the team call was that I’ve been internalizing the world’s anxiety for four years, with no outlet; waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Now the shit is hitting the fan and there are concrete feelings I can have about that. I likened it to the dread I have before a dental procedure…but on the actual day of, in the dentist’s chair, I get a kind of zen calm: OK this is actually happening now.
Anyway maybe what makes this zen for me is not something internal but rather that I am so so lucky
so a fear I’ve had for a couple years now — watching businesses I love dry up and blow away — is that people just don’t go out in public any more. This was a fear I had long before covid-19.
I appreciate all the remote things were doing now, remote classes/concerts/work etc. I wondered to my mom (via Facetime!) a couple days ago, how would this level of social isolation have played out 20–30 years ago? Video stores were the only places to get home video, libraries were the only places to get books, catalog shopping took weeks to complete, etc.
So yay internet for making this all possible, and indeed (relatively) painless. At least socially.
But as we adjust to almost total social isolation, I'm not sure this bodes well for reviving a robust public life. The New Normal even after we have a stable economy again might be eerily silent streets, digitally intermediated social lives, retreat into matrix-y entertainment pods, and carving up the last remaining public spaces for private reuse