Self-Sacrifice and Pandemics are intimate friends. In order for a pandemic to end we must learn to do without things that we need. We go without meeting friends for months, we go without hugs or handshakes for months. We go without restaurants, bars, cafés or cinemas for months. We go without needing the internal combustion for days at a time.
I mention all of these things looking at the past 76 days. Yesterday I had my first human to human contact in that many days. Today I shook my first hand. Between yesterday and today I transitioned from being two or more meters from people at all times to being close. I went into homes that were not my own.
For those who were not alone in self-isolation this might seem uninteresting but for many of us, who live in solitude, is a big step towards post-pandemic life. We can return to being within society, rather than on its outskirts. We don’t need to be distant and cold.
Of course the two meter rules are still in effect, but in two specific contexts I have let the rules slide for family.
The Return to Cycling
Although I didn’t make much fuss about the return to cycling this was a big step towards post-pandemic life. During the pandemic, I did not cycle because I wanted to reach only places that I could reach within an hour to an hour and a half of walking. By cycling, I decided the rule was no longer needed. My range of places to go, and experiences to have expanded.
During the pandemic people went on 80km rides, and I could have done the same, but I sacrificed because I believed that the cost to society would be too high, if I was infected and spread it, or if the opposite happened.
Yesterday someone spoke about feeling uncomfortable saying no to meeting friends during the pandemic after I had done the same. My reasons for not meeting those friends were:
- It would have required crossing seven or eight towns and villages at rush hour
- The group would have been from seven to nine people large when the scientists recommended that groups be no larger than five individuals
- The meeting was too late for me to include it within a bike ride, and I don’t want to return to using a car every single day like I used to.
- The location would have required me to drive for two and a half hours to three hours at best.
The emotional cost of this was huge, because I really did need to be sociable for the first time in over 70 days and I couldn’t, because couples who were not lonely and in solitary confinement went together anyway.
If you were not alone with yourself for seventy plus days then you cannot understand. As a joke I started to say that I was a pandemic hermit because of the self-isolation.
Driving to Do Things
So far during the pandemic the furthest I have driven is to the top of a mountain. I can get there within fifty five minutes so that shows how close it was. For sixty to seventy days I never crossed the Canton/state lines. I still haven’t been into a city.
The Brits got angry with Cummings for the road trip and I do understand that anger. I felt it when I saw people do touristy things at the peak of the pandemic in Switzerland. It made me angry that I self-sacrificed whilst they went on as normal, and it made me angry because of their apathy towards other people and the rules.
In a pandemic we must all sacrifice, and behave as a united society because solidarity is important, but also because the more seriously people take lockdown rules the sooner a pandemic is over. The less self-sacrificing people are, the more drawn-out the pandemic lasts.
Still Not Over
The pandemic is still not over, but at least those of us who were in solitude for over two months can re-emerge and re-integrate society, one small step at a time.