As the World Turns

Loss of one’s sense of smell is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and COVID 19. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! As a non-smoker and healthcare worker, I suggest you do that metaphorically of course. Now if you should find yourself compulsively sniffing the air, you may blame me.

I’ve been nosing about the family compound like a neurotic, bored bloodhound myself to check for signs of potential doom, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Here are my Top Eight thoughts, unranked and uninformed:

  • Canada’s healthcare systems are serving us imperfectly but very, very well. May I add another “very” without torturing editors? Our first case of COVID 19 was on January 15, 2020, around the same time as the infection appeared in the US and several European countries. As I type these words, Canada has a death rate of 3 people per million. By comparison, the rate is 16 per million in the US, 58 per million in Switzerland, 62 per million in France, and 214 per million in Spain (Worldometer, 2 April 2020). Numbers speak louder than words. Thank-you to all of the people who serve in public health and front line care.
  • Housekeeping, maintenance, and supply chain staff are the pillars of well-run hospitals, long-term care homes, and clinics. Our facilities depend on cleanliness, order, and timely repair. Deep gratitude to those who set the tone, play the bass notes, and keep things humming.
  • Today in southwestern Ontario the skies are as blue as they were on September 11, 2001. As on that horrible day, few planes are flying. Vacations abroad and business trips that could’ve been Skype or Zoom meetings have been choking us to death. Those that fly to meditation retreats, teachers included, aren’t spiritually evolving; they’re being selfish. After the pandemic is over, and we’re released from Cootieville Penitentiary, could we all fly less?
  • The celebrities and Instagram stars have vanished from the Interweb like so many COVID 19 viruses under a Cavi-wipe. Do you miss them? Me neither. Let’s put celebrity culture in the same category as air pollution. A self-inflicted scourge. In a few months, when the Instagram stars and A, B, and C listers strut out of their mansions in their best outfits, please let’s not care too much.
  • The first thing we should lift restrictions on, when the time is right, are skateboard parks, playgrounds, and tennis courts. We’ve all come through the gloom of winter. Seeing these public amenities fenced off is heartbreaking, especially in spring.
  • A couple of weeks ago, as I struck cancelled events and social engagements off my calendar, I felt an unexpected emotion: glee. I’m missing most of my usual activities, but – quelle surprise – not all of them. There were some items on the agenda that did not “spark joy”, in the translated words of Mari Kondo, but I didn’t notice my sub-clinical misery because I was too busy being busy. Should the Fates decide that I survive lock down, I’ll use the Kondo method to organize my post-pandemic lifestyle. Stratford Public Library’s Pints and Pages book club? Joy! Down for third Mondays at 6:30 pm.
  • My knowledge of economics is approximately equal to my understanding of how a nuclear reactor works. Rudimentary is an over-statement. Still, I have a sense that spending money locally is important now. If you are fortunate to have an income (colleagues – this means you), maybe agree to some extra TLC on your auto at the local garage, spoil your family with wholesome take-out, and tip generously.
  • After The Pandemic is over, let’s tackle the existential issues facing humanity, namely our abuse of each other and the earth. Left unchecked COVID 19 could kill about 2 percent of us, give or take a few million. War, over-consumption, and general garden variety nastiness could kill us all. Really, really, we have to ditch plastic trinkets, Facebook trolling, and weapons of mass destruction for good.

Fellow humans on Spaceship Earth- I see you cooperating and, dare I say it, being nice. From truckers and farmers, and people of all ages cheerfully enduring quarantine to the Prime Minister, we’re pulling together. Expect more turbulence, but if we keep taking care of each other as we are now, we’ll be just fine.

I smell a rosy future in the crisp, clean air.