|Masked up at BernArt Be aMAZEd|
For the first two months, when coronavirus cases were still on the rise, we rarely went farther than our local grocery store to pick up supplies for the week, and visited with family and friends only via telephone and videoconference. Our various volunteer commitments moved online as well.
Over the past two months, as cases have declined to almost none locally, we've gradually made our way back out into the world in careful and limited ways. There have been a few dinners on restaurant patios, a handful of outside gatherings with trusted friends and family, and occasional day trips to local beaches. One day a couple of weeks ago, we ventured as far as Halifax (an hour away) to pick up a couple of items we needed for an upcoming kitchen renovation and two weeks ago I attended my first (physically distanced) board meeting at a local fire hall. This week, I went on a photography field trip with a small group of photography friends to a fabulous local attraction, BernArt Be aMAZEd, where the photos accompanying this post were taken.
On the one hand, I like being able to interact with other people more normally again. Attending so many meetings and other events online was exhausting. On the other, this new stage is just as tiring in a different way. There's so much to negotiate. Do the people with whom I want to interact take the pandemic seriously? Are they comfortable meeting in person? What risks will I take being in close contact with them? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? What if we can't meet outside? Is our preferred venue big enough and does it have windows that open?
In mid-summer, it's usually possible to settle on a plan that works for everyone, but I already dread the challenges colder weather will bring - particularly, if the predicted "second wave" arrives. Personally, I plan to avoid "in person" indoor meetings when/if case numbers rise again but I expect there'll be pressure to attend them from people whose risk assessment is different from mine - either because they don't feel personally at risk, or because they hate virtual meetings enough to take more risks.
Of course, there's no point worrying about that yet. Lots could change in the next few months, and - if and when push comes to shove - I mostly have the luxury of choosing which risks I'll take. It's just hard to hold my ground sometimes in the face of others' disapproval - even when I feel it's the right thing to do.
I've thought a lot lately about the ways in which the pandemic has disrupted our lives - economically, socially, personally - and the thing that worries me most at the moment is the growing generational divide. Is our society cohesive enough to keep people of different generations pulling in the same direction, even when their interests would otherwise take them in very different ones? Bluntly put, how long will younger, less vulnerable people be willing to sacrifice their own interests to protect those who are older and more vulnerable? If a vaccines or effective treatments aren't available within a reasonably short period of time, how might things change? Will older, more vulnerable people find themselves living in isolation indefinitely while younger people return to business as usual? And what are the long term effects of that divide likely to be?
I suppose it's possible one outcome will be to disempower the baby boomers enough that the concerns and interests of younger generations finally get the attention they deserve from public policy-makers, marketing directors, etc. However, it seems to me unlikely boomers will let that happen without a fight. After all, they've spent their whole lives being the centre of their universe so they're bound to resist playing second fiddle, even for the sake of their kids and grandkids.
For the moment, all we can do is take it one day at a time, support one another to the extent we can, and hope for the best. We human beings can be remarkably innovative, compassionate and resilient when we have to be, and a worldwide pandemic is as good a reason as any.
Here are a few more favourite shots from our photo outing this week.