I’m used to being decisive. This is what’s for dinner, this is what I’m wearing today, here’s what I’m going to do right now. Which is why the current reality is so destabilizing for me.
Should we go to New Jersey to visit with family, as we do every summer? On the one hand, how can I not see everyone when it’s been months? On the other hand, is it safe? It seems everyone in Jersey has had the virus, so is there herd immunity now? But what if there are germs there that I bring back home? But what’s the alternative? Stay home forever? If we go, will we go out and do fun things with the kids? Whom will we visit? Indoors or outdoors? What about a second spike? Are we in it? Is this just the tail end of the first spike, and the best is yet to come? Lots of questions and no answers.
I have no real way of making these decisions. My two usual trusty guideposts, information and intuition, are failing me here. The information is spotty, indeterminate, and contradictory. Also, it changes every day. Higher COVID numbers due to actual cases, or to more testing? Numbers going up or down? Cases getting less dangerous or no? As for intuition, I have nothing to base it on at all.
In normal times, I am the opposite of a germaphobe. Now what would you call that? A germaphile? Germs are good. A little exposure builds immunity, that’s been my motto. I superciliously pass the Purell wipes on my way into Heinen’s, with a small but private (until now) eyeroll at those who think they can avoid germs in the real world, but are really cultivating the world’s next superbug. (No offense, Purell. But then, you don’t need my coddling right now.) We have a “30-second-rule” if something falls on the floor. Okay, maybe the rule is longer than 30 seconds. (Hoping anyone still eats at my house when this is all over.)
But now? I don’t even know what I believe. Suddenly, Purell is the messiah and the 30-second-rule feels like a gross violation of human rights.
Perhaps this has been one of the greatest casualties, for me, of this pandemic. My normal confidence is shattered. What’s right? What’s wrong? Who’s right? The total lockdown, while frustrating, was clear as day. We all knew what to do. But this gray zone is going to be the death of me.
Half the time my judgmental brain is firing off like a madwoman: They’re going to Florida?? Now?? The other half, I’m pining away for normalcy: I’m so done with not hugging anyone!!
My normal faith in the medical system, as a person who, thank God, has had a healthy life, has transformed into cynical suspicion. Can anyone ever really know with total certainty what they’re talking about?
So what’s a girl to do?
When we were in Israel this past December for our bnei mitzvah family mission with JFX, we visited the Blind Museum in Tel Aviv. In total darkness, we groped in front of us, our main mission being not to fall or hurt ourselves (or whack someone else in the face, yes, that happened). All you had was the space right in front of you. Nothing else. No perspective, no anticipatory information, no lay of the land.
We cannot see the future. The past has no precedents. All we have is this moment. The air right in front of our faces. It’s all we ever had. And maybe that humble spirit is the point of all this. Maybe the superciliousness that we all privately hide is what needs to be addressed here, as we hopefully, finally, understand, that we understand absolutely nothing, that we are specks of atoms and molecules in a vast, brilliant universe, that God always did and will run the show. Maybe.
But then, what do I know?