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Publisher / Editor:
Paul Hayden

America, Waiting and Hibernating

The American people have resigned themselves to staying at home; they must break free and walk in the sun.

April 13, 2020

Since the onset of the Corona Virus, and as of late, I have begun to think of myself as a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, or the street. Perhaps comparable to main characters in science fiction movies, such as the Omega Man and the Quiet Earth, the character survives or awakens and finds himself on the earth decimated and ravaged by a pandemic virus.

While the American people and the rest of the world deal with COVID-19, I find myself in a similar situation as did the main characters in the movies mentioned previously. This may seem to be rather unusual and perhaps even unrealistic, but recent events as they have unfolded would indicate that life as we know it has changed, hopefully for only the immediate future. Allow me to explain.

Some years ago I decided to lessen the amount of time spent behind the wheel of a car, and employ the God-given limbs that afford me a more natural means of travel. I walk a considerable amount for both business and personal reasons each week. I do this for a number of reasons, upkeep, maintenance, and expense of owning a car, reckless and irresponsible drivers on the roadways, and of course exercise. When confronted with emergencies or having to travel a great distance, I will use a car.

Keeping in mind all of the do’s and don’ts of protecting oneself from the virus, I still walk as much as I did when this invisible enemy didn’t exist. But now something is different, I seem to be the only person out there, and in a major city no less. Every now and then I will spot some other person out and about, but usually, the streets are deserted, morning, noon and especially at night, save an occasional car speeding by.

The only places you will usually find signs of life today are in supermarkets, pharmacies, or grocery stores. They’re like gathering places, to satisfy the human need for companionship, but once the carts are filled with necessities, and lest we forget toilet paper, it’s back in the car, off to home to resume hibernating with all its modern conveniences. And if you feel the need to stay connected tune into the news, for its nonstop hysterical and depressing virus updates.  

By now you might be asking, what’s this guy’s problem; he’s exaggerating this whole thing. If I want remain in my home, knowing I and my family are safe, why should he care? The full impact of what this virus has caused came to fruition on a sunny Saturday morning, a couple of weeks ago. I was at a major mall, the main concourse stretched about a couple of city blocks in length and one block in width. There are about 25 stores of every conceivable kind lining each side. There was not a soul in sight, I was entirely alone, and the quietude could be felt.

As I walked the mall, every store was dark with signs apologizing for the inconvenience of not being open.
Again on a Saturday morning, one week later, I was at the same mall, and again the only soul. It was eerie and I thought does this forebode a possible future where people out of fear of infection and possibly worse prefer home, to do their shopping online. Will social distance go far beyond six feet, and even behind closed doors? On this same morning, I walked a short distance and visited another smaller mall across the way, it too was deserted, not a soul in sight, all stores dark and closed. The only sound was the wail of the wind that swept through the parking structure that was empty.
And yet, friends, the sun still rises in the east, sets in the west, and the birds still chirp, and the signs of spring are a panacea for the senses. Don’t misunderstand, I realize people are frightened and want to protect themselves and their families, but there is no reason why, guided by the proper safety protocols, people cannot get out of their homes and walk. Unless you are disabled, young and old, get out of the house or apartment, get some fresh air; it will do you a world of good both physically and mentally.

Dr. Irwin Redlener of The National Center for Disease Preparedness is quoted as saying “The ability to ambulate, walk efficiently, is essential for coping with emergencies and crisis.”

If in my attempt to convince you that staying cooped up in your homes can have detrimental effects, and if in doing so, you have become troubled and uncomfortable with this rather dire scenario, allow me to bring a little bit of levity into your lives.

While at a major supermarket, there was a line of people waiting their turn to get in. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the store, where there is usually a flock of seagulls screeching, loitering, and grubbing for something to eat. And what happens when you throw a morsel of something eatable? They usually go crazy and fight for it. What do think would happen if I was to throw a roll of toilet paper near the group of waiting people?

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