There is an old yarn that tells of a weary traveler who, in the days before GPS and navigation apps, found himself far from home, hopelessly lost in the country. Indeed he was “off the map.”
Minutes passed as hours. Miles rolled beneath him, carrying him no closer to home, the gas gauge approaching “empty.” Desperate for assistance, the lost soul finally came across a seedy gas station, which to him appeared like an oasis in the desert.
Honking his horn with joy, a sleepy gas jockey at length appeared. The driver, overcome with relief exclaimed, “Fill ‘er up! And can you please tell me how to get back to the highway?”
The attendant puzzled a long moment, carefully studied the map and then answered sheepishly, “Mister, I’m afraid you can’t get there from here.”
This is our predicament. We are the traveler, the highway for lack of a better word is “normalcy” and we are off the map with no one who can tell us exactly how to handle this coronavirus outbreak.
People are afraid — more so even than after 9/11. No doubt some of this anxiety comes from facing an enemy even more unseen and insidious than Al-Qaeda. The uncertainty of just how bad things might get, our loss of freedom of movement add fuel to our concerns. There is perhaps so much information emanating from so many sources without rest that no one entity is deemed as the authority. Thus information mingles with misinformation breeding rumor and fear.
So how do we return to normalcy?
It is of paramount importance to know with confidence that we will get through this. Humanity has survived plagues, war and pestilence unmeasured before our time. We, too, shall survive.
We must accept that we cannot control many aspects of this pandemic. We have become an impatient people expecting all variables to bend to our will. This is not how epidemiology works. This is not how nature works. Our world is often cold and capricious.
Life is hard.
Better to identify and focus on what we can control.
Yes — wash your hands.
Yes — social distancing is appropriate.
In addition, let’s practice some “social media” distancing — so much anger and inaccurate information. Set it aside. Instead, let’s pick up a good book, perhaps THE good book and enrich our minds.
For your news, pick a source you deem reliable and get updated once daily only — aim for quality over quantity.
For those of us with children at home for extended time, don’t let the time be wasted with excessive television and gaming. Spend time with them. Assign meaningful tasks. Recommend some good reads.
For those of us actively invested in the stock market, yes, consider some bargain buying — so long as you won’t need the money within the next 5-7 years, you’ll probably make a profit. Buy and look away for the next several months. We’ve all lost value in our retirement plans of late. Do not despair. If your self-worth is derived from your net-worth it might be time for some thoughtful introspection.
Politically — take note of how our elected officials at the local, state and national levels are behaving. If the Rs and Ds can’t reach across the aisle and “bump elbows” to help us now, then they never will. We must hold them accountable at the ballot box. Your phone calls and votes count.
At the grocery store — purchase only what you need and leave some for your neighbors. During WWII gasoline, food and clothing were all rationed for a time. Do we really want to be known as the American generation that hoarded toilet paper? I thought not.
Our favorite and familiar local churches, stores, restaurants, and offices may close for a time, but they WILL reopen. When they do, they will need our patronage more than ever. Let’s visit them often and with generosity.
Some of our friends may be off work for a time. Let’s help them carry their extra burden.
Some of our family might feel isolated. Let’s share a phone call with them.
Our least fortunate may go hungry. Let’s feed them as we can.
Some of us, in spite of all effort, will succumb to this misery. Let us not be embarrassed in their sight by how we comport ourselves during this trial.
Do not be afraid.
Do the right thing.
This too shall pass.