Where Are We in the Pandemic?

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With omicron burning through Americans, vaccinated and unvaccinated (though, sadly, with very different outcomes), it feels like a total vertigo moment.

It’s as if we’re either:

  • In a Chutes and Ladders moment, in which we slide back to April 2020 and start all over again. Or …
  • On one of those people movers at the airport, and omicron’s lesser severity and crazy transmissibility accelerates us toward the end of this dread time.

I know we are not sliding back to vaccine-less 2020, but right now we’re in the middle of Little O’s spread and it’s depressing to see so many people who have avoided covid this far into the pandemic getting sick, and dealing with all the dislocation, frustration and postponement that comes with a country full of sick people (many mild, some deathly) all at once. Hospitals are delaying elective surgeries again, not because they are full of seriously ill patients, but because they can’t staff an OR. Schools are closing not because all the kids are sick, but because too many teachers and aides are. Same for restaurants and thrift shops and corporate offices.

The next 6-8 weeks are gonna be this twilight period. Maybe it’s the coming dawn. Maybe it’s a terrible dusk. My hope and best guess is dawn. Regardless, right now, we lack light and sight. I simply want this to end, and I know I’m not alone. Yet it feels so darn lonely. I’m grateful for my wife and for friends and family, AND I realize that I’ve got some level of PTSD from this time. That we all do.

I wish I could Rip Van Winkle this and wake up in April.

Into this jumble of feelings, this article from the New York Times Magazine landed like a dose of Dramamine for a seasick traveler, introduced a new term (“ambiguous loss”) and gave me another person in this world to be thankful for, researcher Pauline Boss.

And Virginia and I started to watch Station Eleven, on HBO Max. The opening episode felt a lot like the opening to Stephen King’s The Stand, though it then goes in a much different direction. It reminded me that the world closes and opens, though rarely for all of us at the same time and in the same ways, and a realization comes to me: Things can always be worse. That reminder — and an always fledgling mindfulness practice — is a way to keep my head above water these days.

And walk, or ruck, or run, when I can.

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