It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since all of this madness began. I remember about a year ago, at this time. There was talk about a virus coming and people were getting sick. No one ever expected it to reach this proportion. No one ever dreamed that Covid would become what it became. Certainly, no one ever thought New York City would cancel the march of all marches and shut down the St. Patrick’s Parade. And this year too. It seems the luck of the Irish might not be as lucky this year.
In fact, I can remember sitting in a meeting about this. We thought we would all be fine. We never expected anything to be this way. Even when there were talks about shutting the City, the shutdown was only supposed to last for two weeks.
Here we are, about a year later and nothing is the same. Nothing will ever be the same. The news keeps talking about our new normal. There are hopes of good things to come and there are people that have opposing views. There is no synergy amongst us. Politics is the new religion now. Social media has become the new editors over freedom of speech. Somehow, the Facebook and Twitter gods have taken their share of space in our markets. Amazon is the new big brother because if I just talk about a product, somehow the product miraculously appears in an ad on my social media pages. Hate has become common. And news about death or dying has become almost desensitized.
There are people living with Post-Covid Syndrome, and yet, there are people that still doubt the validity and the existence of the virus itself. Some get sick. Some don’t. Yet, through it all; like it or not, we are all in the same boat. We’re all trying to get through this. We are all trying to keep our heads together. And yet, we are still unsure about what comes next. We argue way too much and fight all too often.
I have heard from friends that live in other states. I have been told that New York is different and a bit too intense. I can understand this. And I can see that this is true. Maybe we are different because of the size of our population. Maybe it’s our political leaders. Maybe it’s us. Either way, I am told that things are different in other parts of the country. I am told that yes, the virus hit there too. However, the people are dealing with the virus differently.
I was told that perhaps my choice to be vaccinated was foolish. I was called a sheep for following a narrative. After my first injection, I was asked if I grew a third arm or had any special deformities after my first shot.
The answer to this is an obvious no. My arm was sore for a few days. I was concerned that my city would run out of doses before my second turn came around. But no, the shot itself was simple enough. There were no real side effects. There was just a sore arm. That’s it. By the way, this does not mean I can’t carry or be infected. This just means I have the antibodies to fight the Covid-19 virus, which means I still need to be cautious because I can also pass this to someone else. And the last thing I want to do is infect anyone and see them be sick.
I want to put this virus behind us. I want to go outside and not worry about what might happen. I want to feel comfortable in social settings but quite honestly, what I see is disheartening.
Over the last year, I have watched our society change, degrade and become hostile. I have seen arguments, first hand. I have watched people scream at each other about politics. I have watched people scream about racism. I’ve seen fights in the streets and listened to people argue about the validity of a virus that has shut down the world.
I was thinking about Robert Fulghum and his thoughts on God. And keep in mind, this thought of mine is not so much about God. Instead, this relates to where we are now and what we are all going through.
Fulghum wrote, “Arguing whether or not God exists is like fleas arguing whether or not the dog exists. Arguing over the correct name of God is like fleas arguing over the name of the dog. And arguing over whose notion of God is correct is like fleas arguing over who owns the dog.”
I have encountered different people in my life. I have met those who will agree with everything no matter what. I have met others that love to argue and disagree, no matter what. I have met those who search for truth and look to be enlightened, unemotionally, and rather than simply understand, I have met people that look to understand deeply.
Quite honestly, I have no time or the tongue to argue about thoughts on God. I have no rights to claim that I know more or less than anyone else. All I know is that I miss going to shows. I miss hugs. I miss seeing people outside and walking in the City. I miss concerts. I miss going to games.
I know there are people that I will never see again. And why? They died from Covid. Some died from overdoses. Some died from different causes. And some died alone. They died without their family around to say goodbye. Some died needlessly but all died tragically. And me arguing about the reasons behind their death or arguing about the notion of death is no different than fleas arguing about an upcoming bath for the dog, which will inevitably wash them all away.
I refuse the notion that this is my new normal. I heartily reject this desensitized version of life in which death and fear and civil unrest are the main focus. I do not accept the terms, and yet, what choices do I have?
Here we are, a year later, and what have we learned about our ability to work together as a society?
As for my City, I see doors closed and empty stores that used to hustle with customers. I see empty restaurants. I see vacant offices. I see empty commercial office buildings. I see reports that perhaps we might see a return to normalcy by as early as May or June, which by math is interesting to me. I say this because we were originally told that we would only need to shut down the City for two weeks. And here we are, a year later. Now, we are being told that we will see a return to normal in a few months. What does this really mean? A few years?
I hope not.
I reject the motto that this is our new normal. I heard someone mention that his corporation is working on creating “A New Better.” I like that idea. I want to see “A New Better” too.
My hope is that enough becomes enough and rather than argue, more people realize the sooner we work together, the sooner we can get back to being pissed off and arguing about the difference between wrong and right. The truth is there is always time to argue. There’s only so much time to live. Plus, I would prefer to liken us and our society to something more intelligent than a bunch of fleas on a dog.
Know what I mean?