I’m vaccinated and boosted, so subsequently, It’s a mild case. A few coughs, some sniffles, my head feels rather plugged, and I’m a bit sluggish, but that’s it. I’m now in isolation for a few days. I send out emails letting people know I’ve got covid, with the hope of gaining loads of self-indulgent empathy and sympathy, but I just get polite “be well soon” responses. It seems COVID-19 has become too common to raise people to respond with shock.
I called my son in Bozeman, Montana, and told him. “Well, dad,” he said. “I think at some point, everyone is going to get it.” He’s probably right.
My wife has COVID.
So does my stepdaughter.
And my grandson.
My teacher has COVID for the second time. She’s been in Australia for three months to play in a couple of concerts and a visit with her family. Well, now she has it again, and we don’t know when she’ll be able to get back to Portland.
Life is on hold.
I don’t feel like practicing. I try, but after fifteen or twenty minutes, I’m exhausted, and I stop.
My attention span is reduced to watching YouTube videos of people stealing packages off porches, and immediately getting caught. They always get caught. Nobody gets away. It’s great. I like that. These videos are oddly entertaining.
Let me tell you a story that may clarify my attitude about this whole experience, because I don’t mean to sound so casual about Covid-19, now that it has landed in my world. Life and death are serious subjects, and this pandemic has underscored that reality.
Here’s where I’m coming from with this entire situation.
Twenty-two years ago, when I was 50 years old, I almost died. I was deep in a forest in northern Wisconsin, and developed an infection in my right knee. What had started out as an enjoyable weekend of attending a photography workshop with half a dozen interesting photographers, turned into a nightmare of pain. My leg swelled so much I couldn’t bend my leg. I was over 100 miles from a hospital.
I was helped into the backseat of a small car, and a colleague graciously drove me to the hospital.
As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I knew there was an excellent chance that I was going to die that day. My leg had taken on an aggressive, bacteria through an open wound in my knee, and the bacteria was rushing through and multiplying in my blood stream. Blood clots were also forming. At any moment, these could become unattached, move to my heart, and kill me. I’d be lucky to get to the hospital.
What surprised me was how calm I felt. It’s not that I wanted to die, but I realized I wasn’t afraid of the experience, should it come to pass. I was 50 years old, and up until that moment, I’d done everything I wanted to do. Whether it succeeded or failed was secondary. I’d never hesitated to try new experiences, and I was at peace.
Long story short - I didn’t die. Four knee operations, a long time in a hospital, an atrophied leg, a wheelchair, crutches, physical therapy, on and on, and I’m fine. Now and then, I get a little pain in my knee, but beyond that I’m up and around.
That was almost 23 years ago.
It was rough, I'm grateful it happened. Every day since then, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. A day hasn't gone by that I don't think - indeed realize - I'm always on borrowed time. Indeed, for all of us, we make assumptions about time and age. Well, the answer is simple. We have today, and that's it. Don't count the years, live the day. Don't buy into "you are such and such an age, therefore, you have to act in such and such a way." Nonsense. You feel 22? Great. Also allow yourself to feel 10 and 40 and 50. You've got a lot of experience, so use it to explore life and your imagination. Don't worry about how much "time" you have left. Focus on your health, focus on your imagination, your family, and don't wait to do whatever you can do, whatever you want to learn, and silence the critics.
If you’re not vaccinated, that’s your decision, but I think you’re making a poor choice. COVID-19 is still here. While the new strains appear weaker, they also appear to be easier to catch. Go get your shots. The odds of getting COVID are big, but with your shots, the odds of dying are low. Again, eat well, exercise, and stay positive. Also, if you do get covid, and you’re too tired to practice your instrument, watch those dumb videos on YouTube. They always get the bad guys.
You’ve got today. Leap in.
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