Exuberant expressions of well-deserved appreciation to medical science and ensuing feelings of relief are being expressed, responsive to the quick and successful development of effective vaccines to prevent the continued spread of the potentially mortal threat of COVID-19, the pathological villain of the ongoing pandemic. It is the venerated aspiration of the newly inaugurated Administration of Biden and Harris, that all Americans be speedily vaccinated and freed from its further threat.
The prophylactically protective measures mandated to abate the spread of the contagion, have consisted of an austere limitation on societal interaction, preferably, by quarantine (“sheltering in place”) and “distancing,” (viz., when away from home, being physically separated from others, by no less than six feet), wearing facial masks covering mouth and nose, and the efficient washing of hands. The constraints on normative interactive communication, have proven to be severely challenging.
The focus of this writing is directed to the general impact on our personal lives by the atrophy of social behavior, effected by quarantine and bizarrely augmented by the dystopian optic impact of the universally masked experience. However, in view of the requirement of detachment from others, we are necessarily and apologetically, limited to the relation of personal experience, and media acquired information, supplemented by the sparse information obtained by telephone. Yet, we entertain an optimistic expectation of reader interest in the presumed commonality, of analogous experience.
In normal circumstances, a significant amount of time of the average citizen is by necessity, routinely tailored to fit in with his schedule of employment (including travel). Accordingly, the effect of the pandemic’s indeterminate interruption of such regular lifestyle was significantly disorienting and noticeably disconcerting. In our industrially oriented society, such unlimited, extended days of leisure, necessarily become uncomfortably experienced, as wasted, or misspent. Long-established daily schedules for sleeping and eating, are either persistently adhered to by the gravity pull of long-established habit, or else, morph to a spontaneously irregular basis.
We readily plead guilty to any potential charge attributable to five years of secular sermonizing about the life-advancing, pursuit of elective subjects, unrelated to one’s regular responsibilities; perhaps history, reading, writing, music, the arts, collecting or some personal crafts or hobbies. In our view, in addition to being enjoyable, these elective interests tend, in time, to develop self-confidence, self-esteem and a mature, independent perception; they are personally broadening and by consequence, life-enhancing. Moreover, In times of interruption of life’s established routines, such as the presenting pandemic, they are readily available as an important, confidence retaining stand-in.
In our case, recourse to elective activity consisted principally (and pleasurably), in the authorship of essays and poetry, but also in reading good literature and the enjoyment of film and music. Having previously reached retirement, our decision to pursue such interests on a full-time basis, had been effectuated, prior to the advent of the pandemic. Pointedly, we have spoken by telephone to several parties, some of whom expressed discomfort and a fair amount of disorientation, responsive to the sudden impact of the phenomenon of unlimited, and felt meaningless and unsubscribed free time.
We were frustrated by our inability to personally enjoy the company of family, especially grandchildren, and friends. The mandated practice of universal mask-wearing made out of door forays, for food and other necessaries, appear to resemble participation in dystopian theater and the requirement for mandatory distancing like military regimentation. We mourned the passage of holidays mandatorily, spent without family and friends, the cessation of informal gatherings at homes and places of recreation, and the restraint from access to necessary services such as dental visits, haircuts, gym attendance and the like, which were endurable, solely in the prudent consideration of the menace of the potential of infection. We did, however, get to know our spouses and immediate family, somewhat more intimately than possibly, desired.
We, reluctantly and guiltily, confess to eating too much and sadly acknowledge its undesirable, but eminently predictable consequence, the accumulation of some additional person; also to sleeping a bit more than necessary, to a somewhat irregular variance from our habitual bedtime and mealtimes and guilty as well to a measure of leisurely and unproductive rumination on useless academic questions. However, to our credit, we have purchased and faithfully use a recumbent bicycle, for twenty-five minutes of physical exercise, three mornings per week.
This morning we received our second, final vaccination and are anticipating the Nation’s healthier days.