The Well Aging Fiddler - Mile 20 is not Mile 26

April 12, 2021, 7:33 PM · Last summer, I was walking along a sidewalk when a woman walked out of her house. She had a mask, huge sunglasses, and a big floppy hat.

“Michael!” She shouted, “I’m so glad to see you!”

I had no idea who she was. With the mask, sunglasses, and hat, she could have been anyone. Clearly, she knew me, and I knew her, but I didn’t have a clue who she was. We walked together, and the conversation was delightful. I kept trying to figure out a trigger, or a memory that would let me know who this was. Alas, nothing came to mind, and it got to that point where it was too late, and too embarrassing, for me to ask who she was.

So, I just went with it. We strolled together for about three blocks, talking and laughing and having a great time, before she had to turn and walk to the grocery store.

masked fiddle

I haven't seen her since that afternoon. Well, I don’t think I have. Since then, I’ve made it a point to learn who people are from just looking at their eyes, assuming they aren’t wearing sunglasses.

So, now that people are getting covid vaccination shots, and (I presume) masks will be going away within the next two or three months, I have another problem. I have no idea what some people look like without their face coverings. Indeed, I think I’m suffering from face recognition syndrome, or mask recognition syndrome.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

I haven’t submitted anything to since last autumn, simply because I ran out of things to write about regarding violins and playing a violin. Well, that’s not completely true. I’m in the middle of writing a book, but it’s not in any shape to show anyone. Indeed, it may never be anything other than a project to bide my time as this whole covid pandemic runs its course.

The days have been their own repetitious drone, and part of me felt like it was on autopilot.

Then something happened. I got my first shot, and scheduled my second shot. Suddenly, things were different. There was a dim light at the end of this enigmatic tunnel. Life was showing promise of changing. I was aware of the fact that, within a matter of months, I was going to be in public again.

Standing on the scale, and looking in the mirror told me that my evenings of bowls of popcorn, while watching every possible Scandinavian murder mystery on television, were over. Time to knock off those 15 extra pandemic pounds. Time to toss out those sweatpants and that ragged sweatshirt. So, with that in mind, I took drastic action. I joined Weight Watchers – or WW – or whatever their marketing department calls it these days.

Yoga, Pilates, walking, weight lifting, and biking alternate through my afternoons, apples, oranges, and bananas are my snacks, and bread is my nemesis. At this point, I’ve lost 10 pounds. My jeans fit. Need I say more?

Spring is in the air, and I’m feeling good.

I’d love to get together with others and play some music, but it’s still too soon. I keep getting invitations to join afternoon music jams, and as much as I want to join and play music with others, it’s too soon. I’m going to stay the course until we reach herd immunity.

In this jog of illness, that has become an ever-expanding marathon, we are all at Mile 20. That’s the physical and mental metaphorical and genuine Wall runners need to overcome to reach the finish line.

To compensate for not attending jams, I continue to go to parks and play solo shows for whoever happens to walk by. I keep preparing songs for some future day when I can take off this mask, and when my glasses won’t fog over from my breath. I’m tempted to throw something onto YouTube just for fun.

Four days ago, I got my second shot. Things are getting brighter. At some point, I may actually get on an airplane and see my children and grandchildren before autumn.

Friday night I got a text from my son in Montana. “Teri (his aunt) has covid. I’m getting tested now, and going into quarantine.”

Uh, oh.

States are starting to open up various venues, businesses, and so on. It's getting exciting. But, then reality strikes. Like it or not, at this stage in the pandemic, with someone getting ill, it feels like we’re all back at square one. On average, 70,000 people come down with Covid-19 each day. There is a surge in 14 states. Less than half the population has been vaccinated. I don’t see this pandemic waving a white flag.

My son tested negative, and had a second test with a negative prognosis. He still has to be in a quarantine. From what I understand, Teri is hanging in there, but not out of the woods yet. This is not over.

Stay home, and stay safe.


April 13, 2021 at 08:17 AM · The light is getting brighter but we’re still in the tunnel and I’m still in tights, afraid to put jeans on yet!! (Although, I’ve cut out in between meal snacks and sugar). I haven’t resumed lessons yet, but will the 26th of this month, I’m excited and giddy. I’ve watched every motivational Zoom presentation from every violin group on Facebook and Instagram...I kept practicing this year, but in isolation...I’m ready, but cautious. I’ve had the two vaccinations but still wear the mask and am impatient with those that haven’t done so yet, because this is It, this is Life again and I’m ready to live it, again. So hoping your daughter in law will be back on her feet and beat this thing it can be insidious both mentally as well as physically.

April 13, 2021 at 12:47 PM · Michael - in the first place, I hope that Teri is emerging safely and that your son is well.

So many of your thoughts and experiences echo my own. When I was sent home from school to teach remotely I thought ‘Great! No morning and evening travelling for a couple of weeks. Extra time for better sleep, more violin!' However, online teaching proved demanding and was evidently stressful for my classes and their families. I became even more of a news junkie than usual, stresses and worries multiplied, and it was strange to have to behave as though the Great Plague had returned.

I came upon a little orchestra playing in a nearby park one Tuesday afternoon, near a spot where a pair of hoopoes could sometimes be seen. It was actually a string quartet and a single flute, and they seemed to combine music with meditation, playing for a bit and then sitting calmly. They were arranged in a circle, and I did not speak to them as the group activity seemed so complete and placid, but I returned on subsequent Tuesdays and they were always there until the winds and rains of autumn put an end to the meetings. Like the hoopoes, they were a vision, complete and whole in itself. I admire your ability to play outdoors for passing audiences.

I am hoping to be called for my first jab soon. My orchestra is reconvening but until I know that much greater safety is assured I won’t yet be returning. Wait and hope! Thanks for your thoughts this morning, and may we all come through this without further suffering and loss.

April 13, 2021 at 01:33 PM · I've been ill for a year and the drug treatment makes me feel bad too. I've used this time to improve myself. The drug is famous for causing weight gain but I've lost 20 pounds and my fat pants are now too loose to wear comfortably. I don't watch TV or movies anyway and I decided to ignore most news that doesn't affect me directly because it's the internet voyeurism and isolation plus fear about the epidemic that are causing the bizarre societal behavior, not politics, etc. which are merely symptoms. I've been blessed with violin lessons from a great teacher who keeps me looking forward, always forward.

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