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We've Reached the "Tom Hanks Eating Raw Fish" Phase of the Pandemic

Last May, as it became apparent the covid-19 pandemic was not going to be a temporary affair, I wrote about the benefits of imagining you were shipwrecked on a deserted island. 

Now, a year after we began hearing about the "novel coronovirus," I suspect that many of us have now entered the "Tom Hanks Eating Raw Fish" stage of the pandemic. 

We've made the best of things. Rearranged home offices and homeschool desks. Got through the holidays, mustering as much joy as we could. There's a permanent hook or basket at the front door for our masks. 

Most of us by now either know someone who died of covid, or are, at most, 2 degrees away. Our co-worker's husband's mother. Our friend's aunt. Or closer. We've grieved. 

And now...we're just numb. We keep putting one foot in front of the other, because that's what we have to do. We eat, we drink, we sleep. We get our work done. We nag our kids to do school work. 

But our affect is flat. Like Hanks, we are going through the motions. We find ourselves staring into space, a 100-year stare. 

Over half a million of us have died, we hear on the news. Somewhere, far away, deep inside us, we're crying. But we can't quite reach that part of ourselves. We know we should care. We want to care. We are detached, with little energy to connect. 

Vaccines have been created; they're trying to get them to us. We know we should be excited. But the struggle to get an appointment or to know that we're so far down the list, we need to let those more vulnerable get them first means that we just stare down at the hope in our hands and slowly set it back up on the shelf. We'll get it down later. 

Don't force it. Don't force optimism, don't force hope. 

(If you are in despair, that is another thing. Please reach out to someone.) 

But if you're just ... flat ... it's okay

Fields must lie fallow in order to recover. 

Conserve your energy. Eat the boring dinner. Go through the motions. 

The time will come when the circumstances will be right for us to plan our journey off the island. 




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