A blog reader mentioned that he is wondering to what extent life will be altered by our experiences over the last year or so, and now I’m wondering, too. I have thought about the future now and again, not the particulars so much as the fact of it: no matter what happens with The Bob, our lives will be changed, it’s just that I don’t know — can’t know — how far reaching these changes will be.
It seems to me that the world will settle down eventually into new patterns, but again, there’s no way of knowing right now what those patterns — economic, social, political — will be. There’s also no knowing if those in power will ever let us know.
All of this rearranging of the world, our mores, what we’re willing to give up to for a facsimile of safety reminds me of a world war, because that is what happens during a world war. Everything is different, chaotic, but eventually life settles back into a new pattern, and younger generations never realize things were ever different. For example, think of all the millions of people who are alive today who have never experienced a world without airport security and checkpoints. They’ve never gone to the waiting room with their departing loved ones, never stood at the window waving good-bye as the airplane took off.
I’m sure, in that same way, upcoming generations will accept as right and proper whatever the world becomes after The Bob, because they won’t know anything else.
This obviously isn’t a hot war, with military conflicts killing off the young and strong. Nor is it a cold war being fought mostly with propaganda and fear, where countries are in a perhaps fatal stalemate, waiting for one or another to tip the balance of power. So what is this that we’re going through? A warm war? People are dying in vast numbers, though for the most part, the casualties of this war aren’t the young and strong but the old and weak. (A friend believes this is all about depopulation, though again, there’s no way to know for sure. There are always a dozen or a dozen dozen reasons for any worldwide conflict, with everyone involved trying to gather more power for their own particular interest groups.)
As I said, there’s no way for me to even begin to guess what the end result will be. We’re simply not being given enough information about important matters such as who, actually, was tweaking this virus, who let it loose and why. Was it on purpose? An accident? All these are the same questions my characters in A Spark of Heavenly Fire asked when a deadly organism was unleashed on the world, but that was a novel, and novels need some sort of resolution. Not so “real life.”
It’s easier to speculate about alterations on a more personal level, since although I don’t know all the particulars of The Bob and the reasons behind it, I do know how it is affecting my life. So far, I’ve managed to stay healthy, but a lot of that is due to spending most of my time alone. It’s hard to catch something from yourself, though I have done that — allergy attacks that become so devastating they might as well be a infectious disease. Mostly, though, I have managed to maintain my health during this time — no colds or flu or anything catching — which tells me that staying away from people is good for my health.
I’ve always been a bit of stickler when it comes to opening doors, such as those to a public restroom, making sure I use a paper towel to turn the door handle, and that won’t change, though I won’t feel as abashed about it. Nor will I ever use a public restroom again except in a dire emergency.
I’ve always been a bit antsy about standing in lines, and I will no longer do so unless people keep their distance. I have never liked people breathing down my neck, and even more so now.
I have a hunch, as things get back to a state that at least feels normal compared to the siege mentality we are now experiencing, I won’t be as loose and free as I was during the previous few years. I won’t be as willing to attend events where more than a few people are present, won’t be as willing to embrace strangers as I did, won’t be as determined to be sociable. It was always hard for me to be outgoing, but I did make the attempt because not to do so would be limiting my life in an unhealthy way, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back to the point where I feel the necessity.
But then, what do I really know? This warm war will change us, all of us, even me. And the “me” to come might be more willing to be bold, to get out in public and let life — and death — fall where they may.
If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html
Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/
Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842