Light Years Behind
Whatever we think we know about this pandemic is out of date. The number of Americans with confirmed coronavirus topped 100,000 in March. Before they showed symptoms, many of them infected others, who in turn infected more. Each confirmation might mean at least half a dozen infections not yet visible, growing exponentially.
Gaze into the night sky. Your perception of the nearest visible star is obsolete. Its light began the long journey toward Earth more than four years ago.
Isn’t much of life like that? Writers chase a publishing fad only to see it pass before their work sees print. The child I last saw two years ago is no longer the child I thought I knew. Stock bubbles crash from everyone trying to cash in on yesterday’s hot tip.
I admit to having been among the skeptics who once thought coronavirus worries overblown. The numbers were tiny compared to flu. I was wrong. My data was out of date—and always will be. Barring core beliefs and eternal truths, all we can know with any approach to certainty has already passed.
3/30/2020 08:03:00 am
A reader reminds me light years are a unit of distance, not time.
3/30/2020 08:32:57 am
Sara, Your words are exceptionally poignant. Thank you for helping me and others to place the current circumstance in a proper perspective.
3/30/2020 09:47:23 am
Thank you, Connie. I am so glad this spoke to you. One of the things I'm finding helpful as a writer and historian in this strange time is the ability to be totally absorbed in the pandemic and step back from it at the same time.
3/31/2020 01:23:15 pm
Me too, Rebecca. Some changes may last, like hand-washing habits and so many face-to-face activities moving online. Whether people will remain as aware of our interdependence, and as compassionate toward one another as I'm seeing now, I'm not so sure. Memories can be regrettably short.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.