If it sounds to you as if we’re distractible, you’re right. We’re having problems with focus. We may have agreed half a year ago or more, that closing things down and staying home was key to dealing with COVID-19 – and it still may be. But our shutdown – or the extent to which we did shut down – has exhausted our fiscal resources and perhaps our resolve, as politicos and bureaucrats look to re-open businesses to re-establish economic underpinnings.
We live now between the pull of isolating and staying home and the push to restore our economic circumstances. At the moment we’re much concerned with schooling our children and face a further dilemma. Kids need schools, both socially and developmentally, but it is true that not all infections are minor in children, and it may be impossible to keep kids masked, distant from others and not touching things. We’ve cribbed together an uncomfortable array of staggered classes and distancing efforts, but many parents have found schooling in a pandemic terrifying and have thrown in the towel to attempt home-based distance learning.
Waiting for a vaccine, we’re getting by. Politicos often pretend this is just around the corner, and hope-on-hope, it may be, though we’re unlikely to see vaccination-induced immunity anytime soon. The queue is long, with seven or eight billion of us waiting. There are many potholes on this particular winding road, and the savviest among us offer that it will likely be 2022 – some say never – till we re-enter the Promised Land.
There are optimists among us who aren’t dismayed at our plight and who suggest that, while we’re waiting, we'll have time to re-engineer those aspects of our lives that have made us so vulnerable. Accordingly, we realize we’ll have to pay a variety of workers for the risks they take on our behalf, and we’ll look to prevent the miserable deaths that have attended seniors in long-term care.
Perhaps we’ll re-engineer things for the better, but just perhaps. The gray-haired among us remember a fractious time in our province a quarter century ago when one-fifth of health care dollars were removed in an austerity drive. Re-engineering or reinvention was supposed to happen then, too. We scrambled, doing more with less, and as things improved, resources were added back to the system. Reinvention largely didn’t happen as new monies were added as haphazardly as they had been removed.
As we wait for better news, we’ve become accustomed to our circumstances. We squeeze globs of sanitizer into our palms, coming in, or going out, or any time – rituals we’ve adopted to ward off evil, similar to the talismans of old. Many find the best balm for our restless anxiety is, paradoxically, more solitude. On walks that have become routine, we’re amiable, but pleased to nod at others trudging past, as long as they’re suitably distant from us.
We’re partners of sorts, walking in different directions but waiting still.
Editor’s note: The views, perspectives and opinions in this article are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the AMA.
Banner image credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.com