Lockdown Blues if it Really is a Lockdown
Today is the 75th day of lockdown. I have been keeping track in the journal I write every day. The District of Columbia, where I live, will gently reopen tomorrow, which makes me wonder how I will end the daily count. Is a gentle reopening the measure or is there a starker divide between locked down and open?
The other day, I introduced you to Lucy McBride, a doctor who pays a great deal of attention to the mental and emotional aspects of overall health. (The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good) Clearly, those have been much tested in recent months. It does not happen to have bothered me, but I defer to her greater experience and exposure to sufferers and accept her judgment.
Slipping into problem-solving mode, I began to wonder how to reimagine the current situation.
Oh God, how I hate the need for this paragraph, but it is now de rigueur in the era of virtue signaling by competitive empathy. This story does not seek to suggest an answer for everyone. The overwhelming majority of people have it far worse than readers of the Pundificator. It is also not an “oh poor me privileged lament.” Instead, it is simply a pair of ideas that came to me far too late in the process. Maybe they will be useful?
Yesterday, my wife and I went on a bike ride in Washington. We have done it about three times a week since mid-March. Sometimes, the bikes go on the roof of the car and we ride in the Virginia countryside.
Note to self: is it really a lockdown if we can do that?
In the past, we have taken our bikes to Europe where we have done pretty much what we are doing now except staying in Airbnb’s rather than our house. There are generally just the two of us, though episodically we see friends in various places. Kind of like here with Zoom.
As yesterday’s ride took us past the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, I thought why not do just what we would do in Europe and take some pictures? Everyone, doing the same trip in reverse, would surely do the same.
This led to a delightful conversation — at appropriate distance — with a third/fourth grade education specialist and her boyfriend, a marketer for a fitness related trade association.
The conversation began when all four of us spied a discarded wedding bouquet, and the education specialist said something amusing and a proposabout it. She was going to pick it up but, on the simultaneous advice of the three others, thought better of it.
He had moved to San Diego in January just as the two were becoming a couple and, in a shocking development, they decided to get back together when both began working from home. They are not among Lucy McBride’s group of depressed patients.
Perhaps a technique for Covid-related blues is to think of it as a vacation because, in some ways, at least for older people, there are similarities. Also, we might as well get good at it because our less mobile years could look rather similar.
A second theme also occurred to me.
Why did it take me so long to come up with this way of looking at a most unusual period of our lives?
I have ridden bikes a lot so that idea was easy. I have never experienced depression (that I can think of). Nonetheless I have been reading about it in the context of overall health.
Still, the idea of thinking of a lockdown as a privilege (like a vacation) or as a way to change your mindset did not occur to me for several weeks.
Why does it take so long to come up with ideas?
There is endless criticism of those who were supposed to have had a plan for an epidemic because they were not absolutely correct — or even remotely correct — from the outset.
I suspect the critics over emphasize the similarity of this episode to prior ones when, in fact, the differences between this virus and others might be the more important consideration. Maybe, “you have seen one virus, you have seen them all” does not apply?
Not only did it take longer to determine what the problem was, the solutions did not immediately materialize. Then they changed. Was this just the learning curve at work?
I have yet to find the tap that turns ideas on and off. They just seem to happen when they happen.
Imagining yourself on vacation is not the model for everyone but imagining your present circumstances in the context of something you might otherwise like to do could be helpful.
I doubt the epidemiologists and virologists are done with new ideas, but I also doubt this will go on forever.
Meanwhile, my selfie skills could use some work.