Sunday, April 19, 2020

Quality quarantine

Kim and I went for a walk last evening, as we have usually done during the stay-in-place mandate as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a way for us to get some exercise, to get out in the fresh air, to enjoy quality time together, to break our cabin fever, even though we walk less than two miles and less than 45 minutes. Sometimes we only do a mile or so and maybe it takes 20 minutes. Depends. Our walks usually take us down Main Street, but it also incorporates two significant hills: Post Office Hill on Second Street (which I named for the Post Office) and Judy Hill, on Payne Street (which I named for a friend of ours who lives near there).

Those hills don't look like much when you drive them in a car. But when you actually walk them, they become cardio events.

Anyway, the point I'm getting to is that I've noticed the world – even our small two-mile portion of it  – seems to have gotten, umm, friendlier?

People, some complete strangers, wave or talk to us from their porches. People, some complete strangers, wave to us from their cars. People, some complete strangers, say "hi" to us when we pass them on the sidewalk. This is unusual stuff. I'm pretty sure this didn't used to happen back in the good ol' days when we had to dodge cars, bicycles or skateboards that were trying to beat pedestrians to an intersection.

I know I'm not imagining this because Kim has commented on it, too. "People seem to be friendlier," she said, confirming my suspicions.

I'm not sure how a pandemic figures into this new etiquette, especially when nearly 40,000 Americans have died in the past six weeks as a result of the coronavirus. And maybe that's it. Maybe we see more clearly that our time is measured. Or maybe social distancing – keeping people away from us – is actually bringing us closer. I don't know. Call it pandemic perspective.

One thing that's amazed me is how quickly the planet seems to be healing itself of pollution. Before-and-now comparison shots of Los Angeles or New York are revealing. City dwellers are saying the air quality has improved so much, they can tell the difference while breathing clean air through their face masks. People in India can see the Himalayan mountaintops from more than 100 miles away for the first time in 30 years. If anyone needed empirical evidence that climate change is, at least in part, man-made, then this might be it.

The question remains, once the pandemic is gone, do we revert back to our pre-pandemic ways? I suspect so, human nature being what it is. But I hope when we see an open door ahead of us offering new opportunities for social justice, economic reform and planetary stewardship that we're wise enough to walk through it. We'll see.

 •   •   •

Just a comment about the One World concert last night honoring healthcare workers.

I thought Paul McCartney (age 77) and Elton John (73) sounded like the old men they are as they performed in unenhanced musical environments (this is just an observation. I can never be critical of Paul McCartney).

Conversely, Mick Jagger (76), Keith Richards (76), Ronnie Wood (72) and Charlie Watts (78) sounded like they missed the time machine altogether while singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

I thought Stevie Wonder's (69) performance of "Lean on Me" was strong, too.

And Keith Urban's three-part harmony with himself singing "Higher Love" (although probably counter to the "live" aspect of the evening) was pretty impressive.

It all went well with my wine.

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