Covid-19 Unmasked: We’re Really Talking about Climate Change

My new haul of notebooks (50 cents each).

Writing on paper has magical qualities.  Putting the pen to the page has the  preternatural ability to tell us who we are. My brain fuses feelings with thoughts and grief I’d rather not acknowledge.  Screens screen us; paper reveals.

Fall is the time to buy office supplies on sale, so I have written by hand frequently this month.  I bought some composition books (50 cents each).  I’m not writing a diary.  Yet I write about what I don’t want to think or talk about:  Covid-19.  And I recently scrawled a few notes on a  conversation with another Covid-obsessed friend.

“What will we do when we can’t meet outside?”

“Go inside and wear masks.”

“I don’t think this will end, do you?”

“Not in this lifetime. We’re lucky to have made it this far.”

“This isn’t so bad comparatively–if you stay home.”

“If it ends, it will be more climate change events.”

We were being bores, but the shadow of Covid-19 hangs over us. I want to be distracted, and then I find an article about midwestern hotspots, or read about new outbreaks in Italy.

So many factors underlie every conversation about the virus.  When we talk about Covid, we are really talking about climate change.  In the wake of deforestation and urban sprawl, the chance of viruses jumping from wild animals to human beings has increased.

And it’s not just viruses: scientists predict more terrifying weather events. Hurricanes, tornadoes, derechos (inland hurricanes), more floods, more wildfires, and extinction of species.  Did you read about the starving birds dropping dead from the sky in the Southwest?  Now I did cry about that, though in general I’m against crying.

People have not been at their best during the pandemic.  Don’t take me literally on human behavior, which I don’t pretend to understand, but human beings are unpredictable, sometimes helpful in emergencies, other times raging and violent.  We can agree on one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic:   people all over the world hate staying home.

What do we see in the future?  Perhaps more protests against lockdowns, masks, and vaccines, or more protests like the sympathetic Black Lives Matter movement, or unsympathetic events like the motorcycle rally in Sturgis.  Perhaps there will be even more connectivity to electronic devices–people need distractions.

Alas–and I know I’m not supposed to say this– gathering in crowds has the potential to spread the virus.  The truth is, people are in denial.  It only hits home when when large numbers are tested (as they have been at the universities–terrifying), or when someone you know gets sick.

And so we wash, we wear the masks.  Yet I worry about the isolation of people who gathered in libraries (now closed) for a quiet hour, attended yoga classes at community centers, or  took  continuing ed classes. Continuing ed is a regular Lonely Hearts Club Band.

And now I’ll go write something frivolous and bubbly to lighten the mood.  People used to call me effervescent.  Wow, that was a long time ago.   I doubt I’ll recover that quality–“not in this lifetime,” as my curmudgeonly friend and I like to say.

8 thoughts on “Covid-19 Unmasked: We’re Really Talking about Climate Change”

  1. I totally agree that the future seems to be quite dark in terms of climate change, maybe more pandemic periods due to other viruses, divisiveness, and the list goes on. What I think we can do is to follow the Japanese saying “ichigu o terasu”, which means to brighten your own corner. It will not solve the big problems of the world, I know, but it will bring some happy moments in our lives 🙂

  2. Excellent post. Well said. I’ve recently realized that over the years, and clearly compounded by COVID, I’ve almost entirely lost the ability to enjoy things, to have fun. There’s always something to worry about, not the least of which is whether one’s friends or family are going to get sick or are going to make me or my husband sick. I agree with you that humans have made this mess. It astounds me that many / most of them still don’t realize that.

    1. There is a LOT to worry about. And I think we grieve more as we get older. Personally, I didn’t think I would ever see the climate change fallout, or rather I HOPED I wouldn’t!

  3. I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights, peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms. A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our ears. New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, &c. Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays: then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villanies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of Princes, new discoveries, expeditions; now comical then tragical matters. To-day we hear of new Lords and officers created, to-morrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours conferred; one is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps &c. Thus I daily hear, and such like, both private and publick news. Amidst the gallantry and misery of the world: jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, simplicity and villany; subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves, I rub on in a strictly private life.
    Robert Burton, ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’

    And yet – here we all are…..

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