These are unknown times, my friends. I was working from home but still going to the gym at off hours. Doc, who works retail, was still going to his shifts (along with the rest of the store). I got Anne Helen Petersen’s newsletter Sunday morning and it finally hit me that what we were doing wasn’t enough:
It’s difficult to strike the right tone here, between inspiring the appropriate amount of concern to actually act and scaring or lecturing in a way that makes people shut down or become obstinate. Last week my approach was encouraging us all to be proactive, and think of what we could do for our communities. This week, I keep thinking of a line from this harrowing piece from an Italian in the Boston Globe:
“We thought a few local lockdowns, canceling public gatherings, and warmly encouraging working from home would be enough stop the spread of the virus. We now know that wasn’t nearly enough.”
People are hoarding toilet paper because they are scared of the abject worst: what will happen if society unravels, if we lose our ability to sustain the practices, routines, postures that make us feel human today. This, I think, is such a huge part of why people are still going to bars, why older people are insisting on keeping up their routines, why people are furtively going to the gym and telling themselves it’s okay because they’re wiping down the equipment. If you behave like nothing’s happening then maybe nothing will. This delusion will be responsible for so much continued spread, so much unnecessary suffering.
Yes, I felt personally called out by the gym comment. But after I read that Boston Globe article she linked, I felt more and more strongly that we needed to cancel EVERYTHING for the next two weeks. No trip to Lowes to pick up the shower door, no more gym, no visits to family (Dad! I’ll call you!), groceries only when we absolutely have to. Doc was going to take some sick time and stay home–when he emailed his boss Sunday night, he got the reply that REI was closing all stores* and giving employees their pay to stay home.
I still know some people who think all of this is a huge overreaction, and I hope it is! But for now I’m behaving like the only thing I can do to help this situation is to have no social contact. If you have the ability to do that, too, please join me. (And let’s all be thankful we have a fabric stash.)
*From the press release: “Our decisions are grounded in the belief that there are more important things than business right now—we owe that to one another.”