- The COVID vaccine is coming and "normalcy" is on the way. But everything's still awful right now and a brutal winter lies ahead.
- We're in a constant state of mourning for people, places, and experiences that are gone from our lives forever. And the worst may be yet to come.
- Throughout this agonizing year, I've tried to remind myself I'm among the luckiest on the planet. But however we cope, this whole thing continues to be about pain.
- There's light at the end of the tunnel, but today's still a total drag.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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The COVID vaccine is coming. Trump will soon be out of the White House. Normalcy, in the shallowest sense possible, is on the horizon.
The state of perpetual high anxiety shared by the entire planet will, relatively speaking, soon be lifted from us. But it's still so far away.
When the coronavirus became a pandemic in March, winter was nearly over. Now another bleak season approaches, and "the end of the pandemic" feels as if it's still 100 years from now.
All the daily updates about fast-tracked vaccines don't change the fact that everything which has afflicted us throughout this disaster continues to do so.
Mass unemployment. Business, careers, and entire industries instantly thrown into upheaval. Irreplaceable portions of a generation of kids' education and youth stolen forever.
And the deadliest portion of the pandemic may soon be upon us.
It's hard to hang on to hope, but that's precisely what we must do. The alternative is to surrender to the virus out of apathy, which would surely lead to untold horror.
Agony, humility, and hope
Throughout this agonizing year, I've tried to remind myself I'm among the luckiest on the planet.
I'm working. My wife is working. Our kids are thriving, even if they're not really being educated or socialized. They're mostly confined to an apartment in what was until recently known as the "Greatest City in the World."
Therapy, meditation, and a whole lot of reading have built the foundation of my sanity. Volunteerism has been a source of humility. I try to goof around and laugh like an idiot whenever possible. Actions to manage clinical depression and chronic anxiety — issues which were unsurprisingly exacerbated by pandemic life — are just part of a daily checklist of life maintenance, like brushing my teeth and going to sleep.
But however we cope, this whole thing continues to be about pain.
We're in a constant state of mourning for people, places, and experiences that are gone from our lives forever. Even in the best-case scenario, there's a prevailing sense that whatever is on the other side of this historical tragedy will bear little resemblance to the familiar comforts of life before.
In the "hopeful" present I still see lines of people, stretching blocks-long, waiting to enter a church's food bank for a life-sustaining bag of groceries. I still see family, friends, and colleagues suffering with COVID, either directly or indirectly.
And I continue to agonize over whether disrupting my kids' worlds and fleeing New York City, during a time of great vulnerability in their lives, is the right thing to do.
There's nothing "normal" about remote learning, an indefinite exercise in educational play-acting that for all its best intentions is an abject failure in most cases. But to stick it out is to gamble on this city's hapless public school system's ability to reopen five-day-a-week learning institutions before September 2022. (If anyone's got "the answer," my email is posted on my author page.)
As for the future, we can talk all we want about outdoor concerts and sporting events perhaps coming back in some capacity next summer, but all things considered, we remain in a very bad spot.
The virus continues to spread out of control across the country and much of the world. Everyone's exhausted by the lockdowns, restrictions, and even suggested social distancing guidelines. And the machinery of the federal government remains hamstrung because a loser can't admit he lost.
President Trump and his ever-increasingly unhinged goon squad continue to spread brazen lies believed by millions, despite every court in the land and every relevant Republican-run department of the federal government determining that Trump was decisively defeated in a free and fair election.
As a result, the political hyper-tension that has defined the Trump era remains.
There's reason to hope for a future that's better than today, but it's still aspirational. That doesn't mean I'm giving up.
It's just that I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but today's still a total drag.
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