CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 7)

It’s true, what they say: Old habits die hard.

Old habits…like going to work, school, church. Hugging our kids. Seeing friends. Helping a neighbor or our parents.

So much of life is habit. In the daily humdrum of your life, do you ever take time to stop and think about why you do things the way you do them? Do you remember the last time you allowed yourself that luxury (if ever)?

So, here’s something that CoVid might be teaching us: maybe that’s not a luxury, at all. Maybe it’s what we need to survive, sane.

For the last few weeks, we’ve all been struggling to give up all our old habits, in order to survive, and to allow others to survive. And we’ve been doing an outstanding job, most of us, sheltering in place — even if that place is a tiny apartment on the 17th floor.

Some of us, however, are prisoners of our habits. The surfers who got arrested as they came out of the water. The climbers who can’t stay off the rocks, even if it means crowding out the tiny, out-of-the-way towns whose hospitals and responders can’t handle extra emergency situations. The congregants in the church where 40 people wound up with the virus after they refused to hold digital services.

Habits. We cling to them, like to a lifeline.

Changing a habit requires a lot of thought. Even harder, though, than thinking about it, is deciding to do something about that status quo. Have you ever tried to stop smoking? Eating chocolate? Having dessert? Drinking your favorite specialty coffee, which you know is filled with sugars and Greek and Latin ingredients that are terrible for your body?

Nature hasn’t given up her habits. Ours, though, can be dangerous.

Change is hard. Habits are comfortable. How far out of our comfort zone are we willing to go?

Anyone who has raised a child knows the value of routine. Predictable routine helps us make sense of life. Right now, though, in the midst of this pandemic, we are living, as the KUSC website puts it,

“…in a consistently unpredictable world.”

If you can embrace change, can envision stretching to fit a new comfort zone, you probably won’t have trouble re-structuring your life around CoVid’s demands. But if you’re habit-driven, like many of us, if you find comfort in your ‘old standby’ routines, this pandemic is going to demand things of you that your psyche will fight hard against.

So, ask yourself this: Why do you do things a certain way? Could you do them differently? Would that mess with your head…more than the virus is already doing?

Educators know, for example, that online classes are not as effective as having a real, live teacher and colleagues in the same room. But that’s dangerous now. So we compromise. We embrace a less-effective system that’s safer.

We can all do the same. We can embrace change, structure our lives in ways we’d never thought of. Buy our groceries on line. Get our exercise and stay fit in our own neighborhood. Hug our long-distance kids in our minds, while we sleep, but talk to them only by phone. Visit them digitally.

We can. While we wait. And hope.

Our old habits are in a fight for their life.

So are we.

CoVid 19 Re-Makes our Lives (Part 6)

Two & a half years ago, I fought my way up the face of El Capitan. All 3,000-ish feet of it. And I mean fought. This year, this month, during the onslaught of a virus humans have never before encountered, the bravest, scariest thing I’ve done is go to the supermarket.

Getting ready for that expedition was very much like preparing to go up El Cap:

Special gloves. Check.

Homemade mask. Check.

Plastic liner for the car, where the possibly contaminated bags will sit. Check.

Special area in the garage to unpack the possibly contaminated items. Check.

Spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels to wipe down packaged items. Check.

Sink empty to accommodate the fresh veggies & fruit, to be washed with special soap. Check.

Receptacle for the used gloves and paper towels. Check.

Not as physically demanding as El Cap, but mentally, just as exhausting. Because the risks are the same.

I know that not everyone who gets the corona virus dies from it. Just as I know that most climbers go home at night, or sleep safely in their portaledge, and live to climb again the next day. But I also know the small percentage of those who don’t. Those who leave the hospital in a body bag.

Doctors treating this illness under third-world conditions in the U.S. are making videos to say good-bye to their little kids, for when they ultimately contract it and succumb.

Those who mourn, have to do so alone. No funerals. Kids can’t say good-bye to their grandparents.

The U.S. knew about this virus in January. It didn’t need to get this bad. January! We could have been ready. There’s no good reason for us to have to fight it without adequate protection, supplies, equipment, medicine. That’s the part that hurts the most. We’re better than that.

Or at least, we used to be.