Right now, as I type this, the world is freaking out as a new virus takes hold. Social media has, once again, changed the way we receive information. Hell, it has changed the way we react, too. It literally has changed everything.
I have debated if or when or what to write during this time of concern. Is the best approach silence and space? State my reflections and be done? As I see more panic take hold and poor choices being made, I have decided to post on this blog. It may not seem related to my pilgrimage. I contend that it is. Let’s begin…
At this time, I am volunteering in the mountains of Colorado at a tourist resort run by the YMCA. This is a place for families to spend time, international students to gain work and life experience, and a cadre of seasonal employees and volunteers of all ages to participate. In exchange for my time I get a room with a full bathroom, three meals a day and access to many fun activities. As of this writing, that has all come to a screeching halt. I am here during what would normally be a time of transition between seasonal employees and visitors. Today, they have all been asked to leave. Sadly, some of them cannot get home. Others have already left. It is a mass and unexpected exodus.
I am reading every day about local stores running low on supplies. Why the fuck are we stocking up on toilet paper? What, you don’t need food? Sanitizer and cleaners are flying off the shelves. Panic has taken hold and people are losing their minds with unnecessary hoarding and stockpiling. Business are closing and those least able to provide for themselves are now out of work. It’s a bit chaotic.
Because this is my web site and my blog, I decided to comment. You can read what I say or not. You can agree or not. My page, my rules. That being said, I also have about 20 years of experience in health AND I was working in HIV in the early 90’s. Oh yeah, that was a thing. THAT was a pandemic and an epidemic and a lethal disease that never saw the response it needed. Those folks were dying all around us and the cries for help fell on deaf ears. I was working at a University during SARS and H1N1. We were always prepared and even shut down large public gatherings at some point. Lest we forget 9-1-1 and the thousands of people who were left stranded across the world when planes were grounded, let alone the thousands more who lost their lives. These times of crisis come and go. This is not new. This is our world. This is part of life.
Now, to the reality. I lived out in the country for years. Miles from services and last on the list for emergency response. We were ALWAYS prepared to be isolated and self-sufficient. Weather, power outage, illness, whatever came up, we had to be able to take care of ourselves. Years ago we were taught how to shelter in place. No matter where you were, you were supposed to be able to live for several days. Mainly, this was in response to weather or some other natural disaster. We learned how to improvise and how to live without.
Now that I live on the road, I am again prepared to be on my own. I have supplies and then back-up supplies. I always have food and I have an emergency food stash just in case. I have ways to keep clean and I always have back up beverages to drink. I have been creative in how I live, using what I have and adding nothing superfluous to the mix. I am sure other full-time travelers practice many of the same habits, preparations, and planning as part of this lifestyle.
It is somewhat of a comfort knowing that I am totally self-sufficient. I can and do and will again live on my own. Fortunately, right now, I have all the water and shelter and electricity I need. If I have to leave here, I have a plan and then a back up plan. I will be OK.
But, here is what gets me. During a time when we should come together and help each other, I see story after story of people only thinking of themselves and only thinking of the sort term. I bet most folks have enough food on hand, if they really think and stop being picky, to live a week or more merely on what is already in their home. I bet most folks have enough things on hand to use as toilet paper if they ran out. I bet, if people just get out of their stupid heads, most can live just fine with everything in their house right now, at this very moment.
Convenient? Probably not, but you will be alive. Do you think the settlers or the Native peoples had toilet paper? Disinfectant? Running water? Paper diapers??? They used what they had. I best the vast majority of people on the planet who are losing their minds over this virus have running water and electricity and showers and toilets and washing machines and a stove and fridge. I bet they even have food for a few days if they just eat what they have and not focus on what they may want.
This is not the first crisis, nor will it be the last. This is not the first pandemic and I am sure it will not be the last. This is a time to be grateful and giving and creative and self-less. This is the time to support our kin who may not have all these resources and capacity and really do not have all that food or water. This is the time to give, not the time to take.
I live alone and spend most of my time alone. I am prepared for lots of emergencies and can take care of myself for many days should the need arise. I am also in a position to help. To give of myself and my time and my support. I do not have much, but I do have that. I am safe and sheltered and in a beautiful setting. I literally have everything I need.
Let’s all just stop for a moment. Stop reading Facebook stories and stop over consuming bullshit news and inflamed responses and what someones friends sisters husbands cousin who is a doctor said. Stop and think. Get facts from health authorities. Check four to five credible news outlets. Stay off social media if that helps. Then breathe. Keep panic at bay. Stay healthy and logical and mindful. Be smart, be giving. Get your head on straight and do it now.
I may be safe, but my parents are all at high risk. My daughter is traveling back from overseas. I am worried about all of them. I pray they are smart and mindful and do not panic. I pray for their safety. I will be vigilant about my health and safety. Then, I will walk outside and take in the mountains and the winter breeze and realize that we live with communicable disease and disaster every day. We should always be prepared and mindful and careful. There are always others who are more vulnerable than ourselves. There are also people who need us to be calm and rational. Let’s work towards that, shall we? Be prepared, be thoughtful and vigilant. Use what we have as much as we can and don’t take more than we need. If we have capacity, let’s support those who may struggle. Let’s keep a perspective and let’s keep our heads.
Cheers to the support, well-being and health of our fellow human beings. Cheers to you and your loved ones. Cheers to mine.
Now, let’s do this!
One Comment Add yours
Hi Michelle ~
I just wanted to reach out and let you know that you are not forgotten in all of the hysteria of the times. I was thinking of you today, and wishing you well. My company sent everyone who could work from home to their homes today, and they are thinking about layoffs. I don’t know what will happen here, but I am praying and trusting the Lord to meet all of our needs.
For me, I am trying to uncouple from most of the hysteria and just focus on what is right in front of me. I check in with the CDC or John Hopkins websites for the latest news and information, but I don’t watch any other news sources, nor do I pay attention to social media. There is just way too much hysteria floating around. Since I could be considered a high risk individual based on my age and my history of respiratory issues, I focus on doing my best to stay healthy, which includes keeping the stress to a minimum. Stress has a huge impact on our physical health, and I am just trying hard to not allow myself to go down the doom and gloom road.
Instead, I look for something to be thankful for every day. And I choose to reach out to my friends and loved ones who may also be practicing social distancing (voluntarily or involuntarily) and just speak a word of love and encouragement. We must be kind to one another and encourage one another in these tumultuous times. Lately we have seen the ugliness of fear and greed displaying itself in the rampant hoarding that has gone on around the country [sad], but before this is over, I feel certain we will see many acts of courage and compassion on the part of many. That is what I am on the lookout for. That is what I want to be about.
I am not where you are, so I can’t reach out and touch you in person, but I can tell you that I appreciate you and I am thinking and praying about you today, and wishing you abundant health and peace. I pray that in your walk of solitude and free-spirited self-sufficiency, that you also get many opportunities to encourage others and help them to get through these dark times. May the light and wisdom of your life thus far well up out of you to be a beacon and a hope for others, and then may you be encouraged and uplifted in the process.
Sending you prayers and “word hugs.” Be well, cousin!