A Journal of the Covid 19 year.
Forgive my paraphrasing of the title of one of my best remembered books from my university English literature course, A Journal of the Plague Year, written by Daniel Defoe (Swiss Family Robinson) in 1722 about the great plague in London approximately fifty years earlier. This classic piece of literature deals with the fear that gripped the residents of the city. Of course our present pandemic would not appear to be anywhere in that category or of other plagues or small pox devastations. But nonetheless we are presented with an upside down world where social interaction (formerly good and healthy) is now discouraged, shamed and bad. A world where we fear the presence of strangers or even friends. Where we cocoon into our immediate family. A difficult world for an extrovert. If we practiced this social distancing prior to the pandemic we would all be sent to counselling.
Although the pandemic has had serious health and economic effects, it has also changed so much of our day to day behaviour. I have noticed:
I spend much more time hugging the kids.
I spend much more time checking and posting on Facebook.
I have learned to teach my UFV courses by live webcast, and I am learning and adapting to teaching my five courses this term by online methods.
For obvious reasons I am spending much less money, and equally importantly, time buying food and other items. My aversion to lineups has helped.
I spend more time on leisure. Some games and television with the kids. Some reading.
I eat more.
I exercise (walk) less
I spend more time being concerned with the financial effects of the pandemic.
Some of these results are positive. Some are negative. I hope that I can weave the positive effects into my day to day life after the pandemic. I do not regret my heart attack last year. It provided me with experiences and learning. This pandemic will do the same and become part of the tapestry of my life. I just hope that I can be open to the learnings. As I get older I find it easier to teach than learn.
How is the pandemic most affecting you?
The present pandemic is life changing for all of us, whether it impacts our health, negatively impacts our savings, businesses and income, or just significantly changes our behaviour. I am preparing to conduct my five weekly UFV classes online (I had planned to die or retire before I had to yield to technology in the delivering of my courses). Our law office is operating in a significantly reduced and social distance compliant manner. My family, rather than travelling or skiing at Whistler, is cocooned in the house for spring break and possibly several weeks after. And as I exercised by walking around a near empty Harrison Hot Springs ( in contrast to yesterday’s crowds of people who came to walk along the water) I found myself in numerous conversations with pleasant people that stood a couple of metres away from me.
All of the above is manageable. Life will return to some form of normal and eventually one will recover from the financial impacts on business and savings. Of course inconvenience and business setbacks are minor compared to those who will suffer the more serious health impacts from the virus and I pray for the best for my family and friends and express my hope that all Facebook friends remain safe and healthy.
I do want to express my concerns for those suffering the economic impact of the virus. I understand that many people forced by circumstances to close down or severely restrict their businesses are being forced to close their income source, their life’s work and their dreams and that perhaps many of those small businesses will not be able to reopen. I know that many people have already suffered layoffs from their jobs and their will be many more in the near future. With so many people living paycheque to paycheque I know that this income disruption will be devastating to many families. I hope that we as a society can manage as much compassion as possible for the victims of the virus whether it be in their health or their financial security.
I remember being a child at the time of the Cuba Missile Crisis. I stood with my equally young friends trying to understand the news of the day and believing that a Russian launch of nuclear weapons over night could end our lives. It was an existential threat. My generation in the western world has had few existential threats. The immediately previous generations had world wars, the Spanish flu, small pox, etc. We fortunately have not, but as a result have little idea how to react.
We will survive the current pandemic. It’s impact on China is already significantly reduced. Some of us will become sick, as we presently do from other causes. Unfortunately there will be deaths as already occur from other causes. Every additional death from Covid 19 will be a loss that we should attempt to avoid. But life will go on. We need to do our best to follow the advice of our public health authorities, but not panic. I feel like I have finally come into my own. I have been social distancing for over sixty years. And previously I thought it was being socially inept. All I have to do is increase my hand washing.
I feel great sympathy for those who have contracted the virus and the families of those who have died. I also feel sympathy for affected business owners and employees of shut down industries. When recent studies show the large number of North Americans living pay cheque to paycheque, it is easy to see the financial hardship being suffered apart from the virus itself. And then there is the impact of the plunge of the financial markets and its effect on pensions and RRSPs. Actually when I look at my recent RRSP results I feel less concerned about contracting the virus.
My heart attack last September was a positive experience for me, in that I survived it and learned much about myself. I know I am in a higher risk category for the virus because of the heart event but I am confident that this will be a learning event as well. Will I proceed in a balanced way without panic, exhibiting compassion and help towards others? Will I remind myself of the importance of my family as I hold them tighter recognizing the risks of the virus? I hope so. And lastly the question that has apparently become most important for all of us in North America, will I have enough toilet tissue?
I know I have posted and reposted this before but it still seems appropriate today. May the voices of my daughters be heard and respected. And may they never be treated with the disrespect that Greta Thunberg has received simply because her opinion comes from the mouth of a young female.
March 8, 2018: I want to acknowledge international women’s day and express my respect for all women, not just ones of great accomplishments and ones who are noteworthy role models but also the billions living ordinary lives, because truly all women must live their lives subject to the restrictions that society imposes on them. Those restrictions may include driving and education in some countries but may be evidenced by more subtle cultural bias in our own more egalitarian society. As we are recently reminded even the most successful of women continued to be subject to sexual harassment and other forms of life and career limiting discrimination.
Although in my youth I could get excited about discrimination against different sectors of society and economic exploitation of other groups, like many people my idealism became secondary to earning a living and for many years I contented myself that I would treat all people equally and with respect regardless or gender, race, ethnicity age or orientation. I have tried to do so but cannot claim perfection but I have worked on the belief that I cannot change the other six billion people on the globe but should work to improve myself. This of course is an easy attitude to have if you are an educated white male in Canada. I do not have to deal with discrimination ever.
Having four young children has caused me to change my sense of responsibility to include that my children learn to be respectful of all people and not discriminate. I must say that that is going well and I am proud of my children’s attitudes
But I recognize that this is not enough. I must do more. Having two young daughters has made me much more observant of the limitations and unnecessary challenges that women face even in egalitarian Canada. As a small point I find myself starting to avoid restaurants where the female staff are required to wear short skirts and low tops, in favour of restaurants with more modest dress codes or where female staff are allowed to wear what they wish. I find myself asking myself if in a few years from now if I would be happy to have one of my daughters working there and subject to that dress code. The answer is no. Goodbye Cactus Club and dozens of other restaurants.
Does the me too movement surprise me? I think it exposes a realty that we all knew or suspected but thought that all we can do is govern our own behaviour. Well obviously that is not enough and I should not have to have daughters before I pay attention to the obvious discrimination.
I resolve that I must do more. Trying not to be part of the problem is obviously not enough. I need some of the radicalism of my youth to work to be part of the solution. Not just on issues relating to discrimination against women and other sectors of society but on working towards social justice for indigenous and other groups. God help me to work towards making a better world for my children.
I have posted previously about my admiration for this man and his music. He lives in Harrison Hot Springs and is a tremendous booster of our community. The video was recorded in Harrison and in MRC in Abbotsford. I am happy to share this. View , listen, and become a fan. A little bit of Sunday morning evangelism on my part
Todd Richard who sings inspiring and memorable country music , and is a proud local resident of Harrison Hot Springs is creating a video for his song “ Keep your stick on the ice”. I suggest that my Abbotsford Facebook friends consider showing up at Matsqui Recreation Centre on Clearbrook Rd at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon to be part of the crowd for the video. It will make a great story to have been background in one of his videos when he achieves the success that he deserves.
I am not a fan of country music but i am a fan of his music andI I love his performances.
Photo by Pamela Palmer