A virus steals the rhythm of our lives and time stands still
This must be how soldiers felt while writing home from the front lines during World War II.
Except the enemy does not fly a bomber. The enemy is a germ. The concentration camp is a living room sectional. And our rations for supper last night were boneless pork chops cooked on the back porch grill.
So let’s not confuse our isolation with storming the beaches of Normandy.
Nevertheless, there is a parallel. The entire rhythm of our lives has been turned upside down.
Each of us has circumstances attached to a daily routine, based largely on stage of life. So, let’s compare. Two disclaimers: Let’s save the political implications for another time, and don’t be offended by humor (life’s best medicine).
My rhythm, every day of every year for as long as I can remember, has been attached to playing or watching sports. January equals NFL playoffs and the heart of college basketball season. February, the Super Bowl, followed by baseball’s spring training.
March, Aaahhh, March. What a beautiful recipe, the delicious chaos that is March Madness (the NCAA Basketball Tournament for the uninformed) with a delectable side dish, the start of the Major League Baseball season. With April comes the March Madness Final Four and championship game and the onset of the daily romance of baseball.
Yard landscaping and gardening is planned around the afternoon baseball game, four hours of a perfect dance between two loves.
Except … March Madness was supposed to start last week. Instead, there are reruns of past tournament history. Baseball’s opening day was supposed to be Thursday. Instead, players are dispersed all over the country in seclusion.
This must be what hell is like, confirming, once and for all, that it does not belong on my future itinerary.
So I live in a self-imposed purgatory, settling for a puzzle of Citizens Bank Park, home of my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, where the exterior is now being used as a coronavirus test site.
March Madness and Major League Baseball have been replaced by Netflix (we strongly recommend Better Call Saul, the spinoff of Breaking Bad) and Hallmark Channel movies (yes, we watch those unapologetically) and endless coronavirus news.
Given our Netflix watching volume, we’ve got our rate down to about five cents an hour. Given the direction our 401-Ks are going in, five cents an hour may be unaffordable eventually. We sure hope those analysts predicting a V-shaped Dow Jones for 2020 are correct. Having the market shut down due to radical shrinkage and investors sent to their rooms for a 15-minute cooldown gets old in a hurry.
We miss our workout routine and acquaintances at the YMCA. We hope their replacement — You Tube exercise videos — is temporary.
We miss get togethers and lunches with friends and family.
I find myself setting the table at 2 p.m. for supper at 5 p.m.
The visit from the mailman at about 6 has become a daily highlight.
Monday was eventful — laundry and the dishwasher in the same morning. Exhausting.
Tuesday there was the eventful trip to the grocery store. I never thought a run for fresh vegetables would be a roll of the health dice.
It could be worse. This all could have happened without a trip to the liquor store 12 hours before it closed.
Joking aside, this is serious stuff, with an endless tragedy index. This virus stole normal and that’s depressing.
We — and our nation’s health and political leaders — are bound to a choice with no clear winner. Health always comes first. But what if the road to ensuring health includes economic tragedy for millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck? What if the nation’s health comes with a prescription of prolonged recession? Dwell too long on those questions and a black cloud settles over your head.
How do we get through this storm to find the sun in that as-yet-undetermined someday?
A suggestion: lean on the perspective of history.
This is not World War II. We are not living in a foxhole. We are not being asked to save the world from tyranny. We are being asked to sit on a couch. Our mandated social distancing is six feet, not an ocean.
We go to church each Sunday. By video. On the sectional.
Whether that is your inspiration or not, reflect for just a second. Or make it an hour. After all, we’ve been given the gift of time. Time to more fully appreciate mates, friends and families. Time to honor the warriors in this war — health care providers in a multitude of roles at every level.
Just maybe, when we get the rhythm of our lives back, we will hear more clearly what makes the beat so special.
David F. Troisi is retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette.