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The Real Cost of the Pandemic

Hey! Remember me? While this blog certainly has not offered evidence of it, I DO still exist. I have no real excuse for my prolonged absence. And I have not real guarantee that, now that I am writing a new post, I will be back with any regularity. And that is upsetting to me. Because I can’t quite articulate why.

Yes, I have been busy. A lot of hiking, a lot of time with my grandchildren (remember – four now), and a lot of time working around the house and yard. But there has certainly been downtime in which I could have spent a half hour typing out something to post. Yet I did not.

I may be a little depressed. Not an overall depression though. Consider your spiritual composition, made up of dozens of different components that include every aspect of life. Perfect contentment comes when every component is both pleasing to your heart, mind, and soul as well as in harmony with each other. When every single facet of your life is peaking and all blend together seamlessly, you have achieved serenity. It is rare but not impossible.

It is common for multiple aspects of life to weigh upon us spiritually. Life is hard, life is stressful, and life is non-stop; especially if you are raising a family, working, and are struggling financially. There is no serenity during times like those. But as you age, and as you learn and grow, your struggles begin to diminish somewhat. Your children grow and start their lives, you hopefully master your job and earn more money and are able to do more of the things that you enjoy. Peace and pleasure begin to replace stress and that feeling of hopelessness. Life gets good.

When you retire your work stresses disappear. And if you are lucky enough to have developed and executed a sound plan, much of your financial struggles are absent as well. You have the time and resources to do many of things you’ve dreamt of during all those dark working days of strife, stress, and struggle, and with any luck at all, you are still healthy enough to do them. What could be better than that?

Well, life has a way. In my case I retired and within months the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown. Now I never had grandiose plans with retirement; never planned to drive across the US, to visit the canals of Venice or the pyramids of Gaza. I never planned anything grand but I certainly counted on a lot of smaller trips; three- or four-day trips to places around the country. But more than that, I counted on going to breakfast often, out to dinner often, and to the movies often. And of course, hiking often. The virus eliminated all that for more than a year for me.

And while the virus is still around, like most Americans I have moved on and pay little to no heed any longer. I have had both vaccine doses as well as the booster, and will likely get a booster in the Fall. My entire extended family has had COVID, while my wife and I have apparently dodged every opportunity to catch it. I say apparently because we’ve only tested twice and were negative both times. Did we have it and not know it? Maybe. But you only know what you know, so as far as I know, we’ve never had it.

The bug has morphed into new variants over and over, now considered “highly contagious” but with greatly diminished symptoms for almost everyone. It is basically more like a cold to most people, so it’s specter has waned. Like a great flywheel, life is beginning to ramp back up to speed for most everyone. Of course, this new Monkeypox virus is getting more and more attention so we’ll see where that goes. If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

Having said all of this, I suspect one could see why I would have been depressed during the peak of the pandemic, but why now? Well, it’s still due to the pandemic, but not how you might think. The pandemic changed society and the US came out of it with a great deal of frustration, fear, and anger. Shootings are pretty much a daily occurrence, road rage is everywhere, and while this might sound like hyperbole, we are on the extreme precipice of anarchy. More and more people are doing whatever the hell they feel like doing, whether that be on the road, in a store, at work… People are on the ragged edge and like the old movie: they are fed up and won’t take it anymore.

Think about the last few years: the storming of the Capitol, COVID, the economy including gas prices and inflation, mass shootings, the reversal of Roe v Wade, the sheer idiocy coming out of the mouths of almost every single politician, the vehemence and divisiveness of our two political parties, the seemingly undeniable changing climate, and a host of other issues. People are so “triggered” that they are almost literally climbing out their skin. We are in a sorry state. And that, is why I am depressed.

I’ve written often of the music we all create with our soul and our spirit; the notes and tones we all send out with our energy – frequencies that touch us all even though no one can hear all of them. But they are there none the less and some more tangible to some than others. And that “music” our society is now making has lost all harmony and is now purely chaotic; jagged and piercing, a cacophony of stress and frustration and anger that assaults all of every minute of every day. And that is why I am depressed.

An example: I pulled out of my driveway yesterday onto my somewhat quiet and peaceful neighborhood 25MPH road. All of a sudden a huge black pickup filled my rearview mirror as this guy came barreling around the corner doing at least double the speed limit. He then slammed the gas pedal to the floor and crossed into the opposing lane a flew past me. He then proceeded another quarter mile to the end of the road where he turned into the local coffee shop. All that anger and reckless driving to go get a coffee.

Yes, there are still stories of people being warm and kind and human out there. Yes, human decency and compassion still exists. But those acts were once commonplace; in fact, so commonplace that we didn’t even talk about them. Acts of decency, respect, courtesy, kindness, and compassion were so plentiful that it was the expectation of daily life. Now? Now we actively seek and voraciously devour stories of act of kindness because they are so rare and because we all so desperately want to cling to the notion that people are indeed, still good.

It is easy to pull up your spiritual hood, cinch it tight, and hunker down in the face of adversity. We humans are a tough bunch of SOB’s and we can weather most any storms life throws at us. But when it becomes one thing after another, it begins to overwhelm us and I firmly believe this is where we currently are in this country. People are beginning to spiritually drown and are responding by becoming selfish and uncaring. It has become “all about me”, a self-centeredness brought on because people feel helpless and abandoned by all life has been throwing at them.

It is a common and predictable response seen elsewhere. For example, it is well known that a person who is drowning will desperately throw themselves onto the person trying to rescue them and will often cling to the rescuer around the neck so tightly that they end up pushing the rescuer under that water and placing them in grave danger. It is a survival instinct and it is exactly what I see in the world today

That is why I am depressed. My health is good, while battered a bit by the market and inflation my finances are still OK, I’ve been going out to dinner and the movies, I’ve been hiking, and I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing all my children and grandchildren regularly and often. So my personal life is really in a wonderful place. But the world outside my door is crumbling with millions of people who are spiritually drowning. And that has made it difficult for me to write lately dear reader. My hope and optimism have been under attack lately and it is wearing on me. As it has you as well I suspect.

More to come dear reader – stay well!

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