Diary

Pandemic affects all differently


No two people are alike.  As trivial as that may sound, when it comes to a pandemic I suspect we underestimate the impact of our personal differences have upon our ability and our success in dealing with COVID-19 and it’s variants.

I happened to be thinking about he way our daughter is adjusting to the pandemic and quite by accident I realized that our own pandemic life — Peg’s and mine — would have developed very differently had we still been RV’ing, or had we still been employed.

Clearly the largest variant for the two of us is retirement.  The whole idea of not having to be in certain places at certain times and the ability to determine for ourselves what we want to think about or do — without the constraints of customers or employers — is a huge dividing line between the employed and the retired.  Employed and unemployed are much more alike in that there is some urgency in addressing the lack of employment. 

I never thought much about the idea of retiring.  When we were working — if I’m completely honest — I never thought about what life would be like after retirement because I assumed I’d have to work till the end.  I had an odd sort of employment history and the idea of stopping doing what I loved and wanted to do (at least at the end of my career) just never entered my mind.  Our decision for Peggy to retire early and then to sell off 98% of everything we owned in order to go traveling forced me to rethink everything about our life.  It wasn’t easy, but the idea of finally being able to spend all our time together was such a wonderful thought that I gladly jumped on board.

In our case our retirement was largely focussed on travel.  Not just the RV’ing, but we have always driven a lot, around our city, our state, the midwest, and the nation — in addition to infrequent international trips.  Pandemic pretty much stopped a huge portion of our life.  Not just the actual movement, but the planning as well.  And organizing and sorting images from our trips after the fact.

There are only so many travelogues you can watch before you tire of armchair travel.  I have loved some of the places we have “visited” virtually, but it’s not the same as breathing the air and smelling the smells.

Add that to the fact that we intentionally trimmed our social circle when we went RV’ing.  The result has been a very different world in which to find a new way of living.

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I have no idea if we are doing well or struggling.  In the day to day flow of things I think we both find ourselves reasonably happy.  We still get antsy; we’d like to be out walking and doing things more than we are but we are doing our best to stay positive and if anything we talk more to each other and talking has always been a thing we did a lot.  I guess that’s what happens when your partner really is your best friend, but I know a lot of couples who seem hardly to speak, much less to have open discussions.  I don’t know how they do it. 

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Employed people, school aged children, new graduates, retirees and patients needing assistance , medical staff — how each of these is coping with their own unique circumstances I can’t even imagine.  I’m having enough on my plate to figure out my own needs and how to address them.  As a cardiac patient I have period contact with a variety of caregivers. In casual conversation with them — outside of time we spend addressing my medical needs — I get glimpses of personal lives turned upside down in very, very different ways than our life has been affected.  I admire them for their creativity and I ponder how hard it would have been for me to have been in their shoes.  I’m glad there are an infinite variety of people because I know I could not deal with some of their problems even as they can’t imaging dealing with mine. 

The one constant however is such a basic human attribute.  We need kindness.  We all need it, and we all can give it.  With all the people working remotely for the first time ever shipments get messed up, promises get broken, answers get delayed.  The phone call you used to be able to make and solve a problem in 10 minutes now becomes waiting for a return call 24 business hours later only to have your problem passed off to someone else.  When things like this happen it would be so easy to become enraged, to rant, to blow off steam.  I know — I’ve been known to do that.  But we all need a little kindness and we all need people to be understanding of the fact that due to circumstances beyond our control we simply as able to function as we once took for granted.

— I hope you’re doing OK during this pandemic.  I don’t expect life to ever go back to what it was before COVID, so I suspect the adaptation process is going to continue for a good while to come.  Over the next months, and probably years, we’ll refine our revised business models, and our coping systems.  We’ll make mistakes and relax our discipline too early and pay the price, and maybe after a few of those cycles the majority of us will realize that life is forever different.  And all the while what we’ll all need is just a little more kindness to those around us.  

It would be an error to expect kindness shown towards ourselves.  We have no idea what the other person may be dealing with.  But we can always give kindness ourselves.  To fail to do so is to doom yourself to needless depression and discouragement.  And during pandemic there are enough real problems to be dealt with without making more just for the fun of it.    

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