Time crawls in a pandemic….and the mile-markers on the journey are difficult to process. Confirmed cases, deaths, positive tests, hospitalized, recovered. Amazing how we have all learned a new vocabulary in the past month. Flattening the curve seems to be a mantra across the country, as well it should be. It’s hard to look around the corner at the future right now.

So far, nobody in my ‘dear’ circle has been in danger, beyond an exposure leading to quarantine, and I count myself in the bracket of luckiest among us—self-isolating is easy when you live alone, can get groceries and other needed goods on-line and pick-up, have no parents in a nursing home…

 I have no basis for personal complaint. I’ve got time to work with my editor on my second novel, and was fortunate to pick up a couple of needlepoint projects before my favorite store  closed for the duration. There’s something comforting about handiwork right now; sewing masks are a benefit to the user as well as the maker.

While there is solidarity in the message “we’re in this together,” the tag-line for everything from ads to sign-off lines on virtual events streamed everywhere, the polarization so evident before COVID-19 hit hasn’t subsided totally. One’s perspective on everything from trusting the infection projection models to where the virus started and how we should start the country up again is influenced by your viewpoint before this pandemic hit. Whether it changes based on this experience is yet to be determined.

I consider those opinions noise for the moment. Bickering seems to be a waste of time right now. Instead, I’m influencing what I can control—shopping at businesses that are trying to hang-on, giving my best support as a board member in these uncertain times, giving money to the charities that provide for the desperate among us. And, being an accountable member of society.

In this place and time that means not putting myself at risk for becoming a risk….Simply put—for me that means staying home so I don’t put myself in a situation for catching the virus. If I did catch the virus, others would be at risk due to my actions. I am in control of that….

As a former hospital CEO, I am well acquainted with crisis management, disaster drills and personnel planning for worst case scenarios. I have great empathy for the personal hardships that are playing out among the care-givers, always there for their patients. Right now, that requires many to be away from their families. I will do what I can not to add to that burden.

Personal accountability includes not adding to the worry of my children about my well-being, shoring up friends and loved-ones when they are feeling isolated, and generally, making the best of a challenging situation. Re-framing it this way helps to free one up to new experiences—virtual cocktail hours, book club meetings, Easter family gatherings, birthday parties.

I’m fascinated by the changes that are taking place around us, wondering how many of these  behaviors will survive the pandemic. I’m betting that there will be some permanent consumer behavior change—“how badly do I really need that?”  And, clearly an expansion of internet coverage is in the cards.

Perhaps neighbors will still hang out on their front steps to see who is strolling by and invite them to linger—six feet away, please.  I love hearing about whole neighborhoods who clang pots and pans at 6 PM every night from their balconies. Human connection made easy!

I hope we think about global cooperation on everything from trade to health care, that poverty is the greatest determinant of health, and that we realize our world is too fragile to allow such political polarization. I pray that our heroes are never again put in harm’s way when we can avoid it….

And now, I need to feed my cat—my sole companion in quarantine. Stay safe everyone!