Unlike Gabriel García Márquez's, Love in the Time of Cholera, this, my friends, is no love story. At least, not between two people...
It's the year 2020. In one part of the world, just a couple of months before, unbeknownst to others, a sinister virus has emerged. It takes a hold of hundreds of respiratory systems, transferring itself from one human to the next, quickly, easily and at alarming rates. The death tolls begin to rise, hundreds begin to fall ill, then thousands. It begins to cross borders and then oceans. By March of the year 2020, it has become a global pandemic and it is named COVID-19.
These days are unlike anything I've experienced in my lifetime and yet, somehow, some aspects feel strangely familiar. That's likely due to all the movies I've watched having to do with an apocalyptic virus that threatens to destroy most, if not all of humanity. Thus far the closest I've gotten to actually seeing this in real life has been the death of stacked rolls of toilet paper. Nevertheless, these days are in fact strange and surreal. I use to say that my favorite sound was laughter and now if I hear a group of people laughing outside my window, I cringe in wonder why they're not taking this situation more seriously and staying indoors.
My daily routine was like that of many others. Living in California, traffic is a common theme. I learned to despise my drives, complaining every chance I had at the fact that I had to drive so far to get to work, pull an 8 hour day and then drive so long to get back home. Every day, for the past 7 years, I've complained. Until the driving came to a complete stop. No more commutes. Now, I've no idea if there's still traffic on the freeways and what's more, the other day I admitted (out-loud) that I missed my drives! I realized that, in part, it had to do with what I began doing with my commute time in order to distract myself from the irritation that comes with being in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I used this hour to hour-and-a-half to listen to audio-books and educational podcasts. That hour to hour-and-half of what Zig Ziglar called "automobile-university", was what motivated me to look for the possibility in the day. I made lots of plans during countless commutes, overcame obstacles, handled heartbreak, found creativity, motivation and even convinced myself that, I too, had vast potential and skills yet to put into good use. All this within the time it took me to get to and from work.
Our daily routines have been interrupted; halted. We are now faced with dealing with a new norm. A norm for which there exists no precedents. From one day to the next we've been thrusted to learn how to work from home, for others to scramble to figure out from where their next paycheck will come. Businesses have altered their ways of service, some have closed altogether. Streets that just a couple of weeks ago were bustling with people and movement, now are shown as eerie ghost towns. Most of us have chosen to stay home and apply social distancing, not just to keep safe but also in hopes of helping to stop the spread of this global pandemic. Grandparents cannot physically see their grandchildren, elderly spouses cannot physically be with one another if one is in a care home. Those that succumb to this gasping virus, do so alone; a lonely death, in quarantine. The prediction, at this point, is that it has only yet begun.
And yet, amidst the grim, the deaths, the panic-buying, the distancing of physical contact, the losses of income, the disruption of common day life, something else slowly begins to emerge. It's subtle, gentle, swift-moving, yet, visible. It's been spotted in the canals of Venice, in the balconies of Italy, in trips to the grocery store, amongst medical staff all over the world, in 3-D printing machines, on social media, in sewing machines around the world, and even in the appreciation of long commutes. Its name; HOPE.
I realize the severity of our current situation, and yes call me a hopeless romantic, but I do believe in happy endings. I also believe that in times of despair, humanity learns to come together as one and whenever this occurs it creates a charge of electricity that helps to recharge the earth and all of its inhabitants with new surges of hope. Perhaps, in this storyline, HOPE returns to save its beloved; humankind and they bear a child and they name it HOPE-20. And they learn to live, yet again, happily ever after.