A Journal of the Covid 19 year. I have just returned from one of my many daily walks along the the lakeside street of Harrison Hot Springs. It is so surreal to walk along the lake and by empty closed businesses that you usually see bustling with visitors this time of year.
Perhaps because tomorrow would have been my 65th birthday if I had not decided to cancel and delay it for five years because of the virus, or perhaps because of the much greater time that we are all spending in our homes now, I find myself much more reflective and thinking about growing up in Levack, Ontario, a town of 3,100 just a little bigger than Harrison Hot Springs). I hope that being reflective of your past is not a sign of impending death. In any event, my walks today remind me of every Sunday in the small town that I grew up in . At that time there was a provincial statute in Ontario requiring Sunday closure. Although I always recognized the problem with imposing a day of rest based on on one faith on citizens of many faiths and often no faith, I did lament the change in the law allowing Sunday openings. Sunday closures created a day when family members would generally be together, rather than individually racing around to jobs and other commitments like all of the other days of the week.
The Covid 19 virus shutdown of most businesses has created that situation every day of the week and reminded me of the closed Sundays of my youth. Don’t misunderstand, I like shopping and being busy on Sundays. The extra day of work has probably improved our collective material wealth. I am a much wealthier consumer because of it. And yet if there is one positive result of this gloomy virus pandemic, it is the forced creation of time for family and reflection. Maybe one day per week of that wouldn’t be so bad.
A Journal of the Covid 19 Year. “May we live in interesting times”. This is one of my favourite curses. Although attributed as a gem of wisdom from China, it probably arises from 19th century English literature.
It certainly seems to be a curse that is prophetic of our present times. Although there is a reasonable hope that the virus will not be as deadly in British Columbia as it has been in other parts of the world, the death and suffering from the virus will be followed by significant changes in our world. Imagine the businesses that will not reopen, The workers living paycheque to paycheque that will not financially survive, even with the announced government assistance. Consider the likely step back from globalization now that we realize how many products we need that we do not produce, and that the market is far from “free”. Also consider the effects of a record Canadian federal deficit likely between 100 and 200 billion, and what that will do to future taxation levels and reduced government services. Not to mention huge provincial deficits that are occurring. No mention of interesting times can avoid a reference to the leadership of the worlds most powerful nation. The United States is suffering from a dysfunctional and deadlocked governmental system, plus they have elected one of the most “interesting” presidents of their history.
The belief that life, economics and our personal finances will return to normal quickly seems overly optimistic. The economic effects will endure. Retirement plans will be delayed. Personally I am now looking at freedom 80 instead of my planned retirement age of 75. We will continue to employ social distancing ( will someone please tell my wife Pam that you don’t have to socially distance within the same family unit). We will continue to be wary of each other. And we will continue to be wary of the United States.
I hope that from these interesting times we learn to be less focused on money and consumer goods. More focused on family. Less focused on pointless busy-ness and more focused on time for reflection. More grateful for Canada and the level of leadership we have seen in our province and nation and more determined to protect our sovereignty and encourage production of those products that we need within Canada. Less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others in our society. Historically, times of crisis have brought people together. If these wishes come to pass then these “interesting times” will not be for nought.
Maybe I’m just an optimist, or maybe I’m just trying to avoid marking final exams this week end.
This is the third day of snow with more expected. I moved from Northern Ontario as a youth to get away from this. Why has Northern Ontario followed me here?
Because of the snow, law office appointments have been and are being cancelled . University of the Fraser Valley is closed today and my class last night was cancelled as well. This week’s meetings are being cancelled: my Abbotsford Downtown Business Association board meeting, my Fraser Valley Regional Library Board meeting, my Harrison Hot Springs Council Committee of the Whole meeting, and who knows if Friday’s UFV Senate meeting in Chilliwack will proceed.
No appointments. No classes. No meetings. This is a workaholic’s nightmare. I’m going into detox. Please pray for me .
Oops glaring omission. I should have mentioned almost no family as well.
Photo by Pamela Palmer