Amazing Times

I believe we may be participating in one of the greatest gestures to humanity and that involves all of us, all around the world, who are keeping healthy distances, wearing protective masks and quarantining when necessary.

Let that sink in. Bathe in the warmth of this great accomplishment, this affirmation of shared humanity on this tiny, incredibly fragile and unique island in space occupied by so many equally fragile beings. By following a few rather easy rules, we are saving lives and it could be your elderly neighbor, your friend’s child or even yourself. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. Well, here’s a shout-out to me and you and all of you who are being careful.

Think about it, voluntarily taking steps that may feel inconvenient at times, maybe the mask even fogs up your shades, to help keep total strangers safe from the COVID-19 ravages. You don’t know the names of the people you may have protected and you never will but that makes it even sweeter, knowing that you acted so unselfishly and that you wanted nothing in return except for the peace you find from giving without expecting anything back.

And then check out the converse. There are people who you will never know who may have already saved your life. They are everywhere: In the ShopRite where they walk through the produce aisle with their masks on; at the Exxon where the gas jockey from Pakistan wears a mask while filling your Honda up with regular; at the pizza joint where Guiseppe has a mask and gloves as he prepares a large pie with pepperoni and mushrooms; the FedEx guy who keeps his mask on when he leaves you the box of kumquats you ordered; or at the Walgreens where the masked clerk tells you that you have points while you take a squirt of the hand sanitizer.

There have been other times when we have made communal sacrifices for the better good. It is those moments that show our humanity, our best sides, our better angels, that outweigh the lesser more selfish times. Despite all the divisions, all the hostility and acrimony, we are proving every time that we slip the strings of the mask over our ears, that we care and that we are certainly dependent on each other for our very lives.

So when you feel like you’ve been beaten to a pulp by the virus, that you can’t stand it anymore and that you want to toss your mask into the fire and go to a restaurant or a bar and mingle elbow to elbow and cheer, eat hot dogs and drink watered-down beer at a packed Yankee Stadium and dance the night away at some after hours club that is packed from floor to ceiling, after you’ve made the sacrifice and turned it all down, remember the elderly man or woman, the teenage girl who’s prom is coming up, the Muslim, the Jew, the Christian, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Sikh, the atheist, the polytheist, the hedonist, the Wicckin whose life you may have saved by just hanging in there and being patient until this ugly vermin of a virus passes.

And when the coast is clear, there will be plenty of time to get back to the bar or wherever you want to get back to and that first brew will taste ever so much more satisfying and the atmosphere so much warmer.

In this time of darkness and a dense chill in the air, most of us are demonstrating the very best altruism that we all can potentially show. Take the right path and you will sleep better at night, I promise. It is truly the temple of the holy and signs of the sun breaking through the clouds.

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer