With everything on one’s diary being cancelled, delayed or put-off interminably, it is impossible to escape the similarity of one’s current affairs to any of the other traditional and more familiar alterations of life – prolonged illness or death, being fired or retirement, moving or breaking up. The one theme which insinuates each of these often catastrophic events is the overwhelming reduction to incapacity – and change. Once one has evaporated the elemental features of health, employment, social alliance or life as we know it, what remains is unsettling and uncharted territory. The possibility of impenetrability also exists – a modern plague which we are reluctant to verbalize.
To try to regain one’s equilibrium in this unnerving environment is no easy task. Having removed the predicates to gusto, activity, conviviality and purpose generally, the very fabric of our existence is under attack from this unseen contamination. As much as the disruption fuels a criticism of government, the inalterable fact is that the landscape is so decidedly foreign and unmanageable that it exhausts the strength of condemnation of anyone in particular. By like advantage, the pandemic excites the simmering charity within each of us – excluding that is those whom one encounters going down the grocery aisle in the wrong direction! Some indiscretions are simply unforgivable!
If ever there were an occasion to be reminded that each of us is but a speck in the Universe, this is it. We haven’t any idea of the depth of the current infection; nor is there anything other than idle speculation about its outcome. Outside the scope of one’s personal dilemmas, the global economy isn’t fairing much better. Even if one were to adopt a flavourful exposition of the importance of small business (as though it were insulated from worldwide punishment) I am still not convinced people will reinvigorate local retail without a more telling conviction of improvement. Getting the larger corporations to lure their stoic staff onto the field of battle may be another impediment.
It helps to be an old fogey. The prospect of the planet exploding is less worrisome than if one were on the edge of living instead of death. Certainly having a palpable distance from the imperatives of employment or capital assists to overcome the anticipated peril. It wasn’t quite how either I or T. S. Eliot imagined the world would end; and no doubt he’ll yet prove to be prescient. Meanwhile the rest of us are on the edge.