We live and learn, some famous dude with an accent once said. So what did we learn from the recent coronavirus plague that still has us all on our heels, wondering what the next six months or year will bring?
What we don’t know easily surpasses what we do know about the coronavirus. Some telegenic talking heads spout with unflinching certainty that a reckless dude in China ate a nasty bacteria-riddled gooey bat late last year, and that led to the biggest shutdown of the world economy in a century. More suspicious minds think that China intentionally released this virus on an unsuspecting planet for purely political and economic purposes.
Whatever the reason that many have stayed inside scarfing Ding Dongs and catching up with the Kardashians (present company not included), it is my hope that most of us have spent this solitary season contemplating how we are going to move forward. What are our takeaways from this forced isolation, and can we somehow turn this bold-faced negative into a positive path in however many years or decades we have left?
It is my hope that we have spent valuable hours with loved ones and come to a greater appreciation of those who will be listed in our obituaries. I know I have. If we were temporarily laid off from full-time employment, did we wonder how we could perform better when called back to work? Or were we among those who chose to move on to a different profession or career path? I would suspect that the disruption for many who had transplanted to Las Vegas was a call to return to their home base and go back to square one.
In this universal Time Out I’ve come to realize that while I love watching live sports on TV, I have zero interest in watching a replay of the 2004 British Open, or a Super Bowl that I lost a bet on in 1993. I was, however, able to sit through two meaningless televised skin games recently simply because they were live television and there was always a chance one of these studs would shank a five-iron and utter a four-syllable expletive that he’d have to issue a public apology for later. The fact that the pros wore shorts and lugged their own golf bags also made them feel like one of us.
I chose to use the weeks of semi-isolation to work full time on a film project that had been percolating for a dozen years. When I would meet with my small team of collaborators every day, we were so caught up in the creative challenge of our endeavor that we felt fortunate to free ourselves from the stress and worry felt by those laid off from full-time employment. The empty streets driving from home to our studio, and the masked dog-walkers I’d pass along the way, would instantly stir me back to the reality of our predicament.
Like others, I did plenty of binge watching. I chose documentaries. I went through the entire Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary in a week, and it brought me back to my college years and all the collective pain that conflict caused my friends and my country. It rekindled respect for all my contemporaries who chose to serve, and fueled anger for the politicians who kept that war alive, when it was clear back in the early 1960s that it was an unwinnable conflict.
If you read my column on occasion, you know that I have a healthy disdain for the majority of politicians. The constant drive for most of them to win another term in whatever legislative body they serve too often colors every decision they make.
This realization will now be added to a list of resolutions I’ve put together in the last 10 weeks:
1. Appreciate all the good people and good breaks that have come my way.
2. Walk and stretch every day so I “don’t let the old man in”
3. Be less cynical.
I’m confident I can stick to the first two resolves. I’m afraid the third one is too heavily ingrained in my DNA to change.