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Alone together

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We humans are social animals. That’s why social isolation is so hard on us. Some darn virus came out of nowhere and now all over the world people are being told what they can’t do.

The hardest part is the “who” part. In lockdown, partial or total, however your jurisdiction defines it, there are people you can’t meet face to face: family, friends, neighbours, colleagues. Near and far.

You can’t invite them over. You can’t meet in a restaurant – or even at the office. You can’t drive to see them, or take a train, a ship or an airplane.

It sucks.

So what do you do?

Answer: whatever you can.

I don’t go anywhere. The last time I did, pre-lockdown, I ended up taking a Covid test. It was negative.

Living in suburban Nova Scotia, I get to bicycle and take out my kayak on a nearby lake. I have some family in my own little mini bubble.

This is what I can do:

In the last few months I had two long phone calls with a good friend in New York whose wife died of cancer last November, and a call with a friend in Upstate New York.

I spoke to my uncle in Norway, who was just back from a boat trip to the northern tip of Norway. He’s 101. Then I got a message from one of my cousins there.

I was on a Zoom call with a group I was in school with in France in 1971-72. Many I had lost touch with. I have a Zoom call coming up with a friend from school who lives in Oregon.

Lots of emails and messages with people near and far.

Every morning, a Zoom meditation with a yogi in Rishikesh, India. Sometimes there is a chat afterwards.

The vaccinations and masks and all that are starting to take effect. It’s a strange grab bag of measures, but it’s working.

In earlier times the plague went through town and all they could do was bury their dead. They had some vague notions about quarantine, and that did help. A little.

Smallpox killed 300 million to 500 million over several generations. Scarlet fever killed many and left others damaged for life. Polio too. I remember that.

We have measures that work: vaccines, masks, distancing. It’s tough and our whole society is paying a price. And yet in earlier times that had nothing, except for herd immunity for the lucky survivors. That was just two generations ago.

We also have Zoom, Skype, the phone, emails, social media. Stuff that allows us to stay in touch. Sometimes we realize we miss people we haven’t thought of for a while.

We are social beings. Reach out. Make someone’s day.

Check out David’s previous post on humans and motivation.

Author: David Holt is the editor of Silver Magazine and Editor-In-Chief of HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Silver. This is his personal blog for Silver readers.

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