Day 27 starts with a beautiful spring morning, the blue sky and scattered clouds all look clean and vibrant, the result of several days of rain and the continued absence of smog from motor vehicles parked for days or weeks in driveways and alongside curbs.
Almost a month in isolation and it sometimes seems as if everything’s broken, and a lot of things are, not least of them is the White House, where the nation’s leadership is basically in ruins, resulting in the United States, the richest nation in the world, passing Italy now in the number of COVID-19 deaths.
But even that bit of bad news is surmountable as California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom has shown, already making significant progress in flattening the curve in our state. I couldn’t be happier for being a Californian.
And that leads me to consider some other things we should be grateful for in the midst of this lockdown, which likely will continue for a couple of months—and the thought of writing this column every day for another 60 days does indeed have me scurrying around looking for things to be grateful for.
But they do abound, especially for those of us who are privileged in so many ways—who have not been stricken by the disease (I don’t believe in knocking on wood, yet it couldn’t hurt); who still have a paycheck coming in; who can make the rent or mortgage payment; who can continue to pay the other bills. I hope it’s not too untoward or unseemly to be grateful for these things.
Many of us have learned compassion, or have experienced an increase in our compassion, toward others. While washing your hands 18 or 20 times a day, it’s a good time to meditate on the plight of so many who are helping us maintain a semblance of stability in these time: your postal carrier, your sanitation worker, the people who stock the shelves in grocery stores, the guy working the cash register at the corner liquor store, Amazon workers and delivery people, Costco workers who continue to work in the aisles of their stores, the GrubHub driver who brings you meals from your favorite restaurants, the people who work in those very restaurants, the first responders who deal with the public and the victims, the nurses, doctors and other hospital employees, your local pharmacist, and the reporters and editors who keep you informed of the ever-changing numbers and laws and other news about the virus. They are decidedly not involved with fake news or spreading hysteria.
Be grateful that you live in the time of available technology that helps keep you connected with others: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp Video, HouseParty and so many others.
And, look, things still work. We have electricity to run all these gizmos that help us cope with isolation: Our smartphones, our tablets, our computers, our Kindles and Echoes. The water continues to come instantly, hot or cold, right out of the tap.
You can just feel gratitude that you can spend all day, whether you’re working at home or just lying on the couch, dressed in sweatpants and the odd T-shirt that you kept around just because you might be painting the house one day. I have a large and impressive wardrobe of clothes reserved just for painting.
You can be thankful, as the planet itself is, for giving Earth a break from our incessant pollution. The lockdown to prevent the disease from spreading is something we should’ve done long ago, though perhaps with a tad less severity, to stave off climate change, and we can be appreciative, or at least optimistic, that the world will be a bit better off as a result of this worldwide quarantine. We’ve proven that we don’t need long and daily freeway commutes anymore, that telecommuting works, at least in many cases.
And medicine and medical equipment have come a long way since the so-called “Spanish influenza” of a century ago. And that’s my final bit of gratitude right now, because medical equipment, in tandem with hospital personnel at Memorial Medical Center, brought my sister Debi from the depths of COVID-19, which put her in the ICU for several days, to the point where she’s going back home on Easter Sunday, to the care of her husband Steve, and the best wishes of all of her friends and family, and my eternal gratitude.