Easter has concluded. The season of rebirth has come. Spring is here.
This seems significant following a plague year. It is not over. Yet its final act burgeons. We are beyond the beginning of the end.
Anyone suggesting that the pandemic has concluded is as disconnected as those questioning the pandemic, suggesting a hoax intended to expand the scope of government. Over 550,000 COVID-19 deaths do not distort reality (any more than six million dead support Holocaust deniers’ doubts about the Final Solution).
Inoculations are routinely administered. Our existence begins to return to normal. There is “light at the end of the tunnel.” The load lightens: A year ago, life felt as if entering hibernation whereas, now, life feels as if emerging from hibernation.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are in the neighborhood of ninety-five percent effective. That is not one hundred percent efficacy. Five percent can contract and transmit the disease as if unvaccinated.
It is unclear how protective vaccines are against variant viral strains, how long they provide protection, and when booster shots become necessary. The immunity we have had is impermanent. Imponderables counsel caution as civilization finds its route towards a renaissance.
Recent holiday meals were the first seeming unburdened by COVID in over a year. Whether Summer is enjoyed entirely, almost everyone is justified in anticipating greater freedom at home, alongside increased opportunity to explore farther afield.
What was learned along the way?
Those who accepted the situation, and went on with life as mandated, struggled less than those who strived to live normally, unsuccessfully (since pandemic life cannot be normal — try as one might). The first two to three weeks were challenging — two to three months for some — but something unanticipated occurred:
People found that they did not need to be out as often as they had been (nor does economic activity depend upon it). Eating in restaurants is fun, but few restaurants produce better meals than I create. The daily fare suited me well — with less fat, salt, and sugar than commercial food — and holiday meals soared so spectacularly that I doubt that Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed better cuisine. Each of us found that we are more self-sufficient, capable of entertaining ourselves, than we ever conceived possible.
I worried what would occur in my dotage, after a lifetime of going nonstop, travelling endlessly, and taking advantage of what the world offers. The silver lining to the dark cloud that was the past year was learning that I wasted time wondering about older age. I was never busier than staying home. I found no shortage of activities to pursue, once my curiosity was indulged. The past year proved to be a sabbatical.
The Vietnam War may have been exceptional: A culture war with no endpoint, almost no one observed changes at its conclusion. World War II and other wars were interruptions after which people were unwilling to return to their previous lives. The pandemic is similar: a pause during which to reconsider life beforehand, with opportunities to reimagine what one wants from one’s finite years on Planet Earth hereafter.
Please remember that the plague has yet to disappear. Variants and additional waves may follow. The more that caution is used, now, the sooner that no caution will need to be exercised, later.
A period of transition is inhabited. We can do additional things, not everything. Put a toe or foot in the water, then pull back if diving into the depths seems premature.
We draw near normality but have not arrived yet. Please pursue opportunities without going too far: A balanced approach shall yield greater benefits than an all or nothing approach.
Jay Wiener is a Northsider