Just a few months ago, I wrote about trying to be more of an optimist.
Let me see exactly when that was …
OK, quick tangent. What is going on with time? I sneeze and suddenly I go from my mid-20s to late 30s. I wake up from a midday nap and I’ve got a kid and a mortgage and an increasingly cranky attitude. And, apparently, the column I wrote mere weeks ago was actually written back when people were endlessly insisting I watch “Bird Box” and idiots were cleansing their intestines with Tide Pods.
I better finish this column before I blink and discover my bones have turned to dust and my eyeballs dried into skull-raisins.
Like the 2018 version of myself, I’m trying to be more of an optimist. Still trying. It’s not going particularly well. Being upbeat about the state of the world is an increasingly tall order in this day and age. We can’t even discuss broad political philosophies among beloved family members without at least three cousins being mutilated, and even our conversations about something as seemingly innocuous as the latest Star Wars movies leads to rioting in the streets. At least we all agree Baby Yoda is a force of pure love and joy, right?
And now, in the toddler stage of this year of our Lord, 2020, we have a nasty, highly contagious virus spreading across the globe. I’ve seen post-apocalyptic movies that started this way. Spoiler alert: They rarely end well. Most involve at least some variety of shambling corpse.
Let’s look at some numbers shall we. As of Tuesday morning, Google says COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, has infected a reported 116,657 people in more than 100 countries. Of those infected, 4,091 have died. Those numbers have been steadily climbing since the beginning of the year and show no signs of reaching their summit soon.
And because bad news loves company (sorry … optimism, right), worldwide economies are rattling like cans of spray paint due to the virus’s spread. People don’t want to travel, so cruise lines and airlines and gas companies are all looking at huge downturns in their incomes. Sick people are being quarantined, which means they aren’t working. All of which has caused the U.S. stock market to sink like a cow in a pool of JELLO.
So, plenty of reason for optimism, am I right?
Sorry. I haven’t given up sarcasm, yet. Let me try again.
It’s rare in these days of rabid divisiveness for us all to focus on a single point and say to ourselves, “We agree this thing is bad.” But for the past few weeks, all eyes have been on the spread of COVID-19. We’re buying up hand sanitizer and soap like it's Christmas 1998 and both of those things are Furbies. The Internet is ablaze with memes about hand-washing and touching our faces. Heck, the coronavirus has even given me a new way to bond with The Kid. As soon as Arlie and I step through the door, it’s over to the sink to soap up our hands and count to 20. (Arlie’s particularly proud of her ability to count that high. She usually does it two or three times … long enough for the skin to peel from my bones. She skips the number 17 every time, though. I wonder why she hates it so much.)
After being at each other’s throats for years, we finally have a common enemy. Most of us are doing our darnedest to slow its spread. It’s kind of nice. As I write this, our office manager, Kim, is frantically disinfecting our office, scrubbing every visible surface with Lysol wipes. The air smells of lemons and good health.
So, yeah. Who knows when our current epidemic will end. Some scientific studies claim that upwards of 70% of the world’s population will be infected with COVID-19 before we can create a vaccine, and even when that day comes, maybe only the wealthiest among us will be able to afford it.
Heck, it may even be the end of the world as we know it. But, you know, even if it is, at least we can watch it together. How’s that for optimism?