My personal pandemic fallout

Today, I’m trying to assess what this terrible pandemic has done so far, and is continuing to do, to me — just one single individual.
I begin with isolation. I’ve always been a very private person, with more “good acquaintances” than real friends. Maybe that should make “social distancing” easier to handle. But in truth, it makes my life harder. I draw breath from being involved in groups, even if just peripherally. I try never to take on leadership positions, but attending meetings conducted by others, and occasionally being a program presenter myself — these feed my lifeblood for real, in-time involvement with others.
Now, time seems to have slowed down, almost to the point of stopping altogether. I find I’m not comfortable with the current requirements for things unconnected to the immediate reality of other live people. At first I blamed my reluctance to join in all the new online activities, citing a true dislike for much of what technology had already taken away from human interaction. However, I had already learned long before to use email for immediate communication, since I love words, have much to say, and am an amazingly fast typist.
However, I did find out — by being forced to do so — that I could indeed handle virtual family gatherings, club meetings, etc. But I also learned that I do, truly, dislike them. I did appreciate three hours of watching and listening as people from many places read examples of poetry that has emerged from the Holocaust experience — the fourth such annual event sponsored by the Ackerman Center at UT-Dallas following three years of in-person readings at the university. The poems, as usual, were varied and challenging, but not being able to watch the reactions of all the others to each reading blocked much of the event’s humanity.
Neither did I enjoy a family Seder that brought together the usual mix of people of all ages and stages in our home city. Chaos was unleashed at this virtual one. The best I can say about it: I was charmed by my two great-grandsons wearing headphones and smiling. But I hope future Seders will be more like those of times past.
At the urging of many, I also tried out a meeting of my Rotary Club, my every Friday staple that features lunch, a brief business meeting, and a guest speaker who brings us something we should know (more) about: community agencies that help others and ways we can be involved ourselves in helping our community. After one try, I opted out. My best experience so far: When the restaurant in which we’ve always met reopened for takeout, we gathered together — with the required distances between us — to order bagsful of sandwiches that we could take home with us.
I admit that I have passed entirely on virtual services at my shul, where I am a Friday evening regular: a time of the week that I most enjoy, most miss now and will resume as routine as soon as human contact on that time schedule is resumed, even with human distancing expected and enforced (which may actually be at some time between when I’m writing this and you are reading it!).
My mind now turns wistfully to my old college buddy who was one of the World War II Shanghai Jews — saved by the Japanese consul in Lithuania who issued many, many passports to Jews who would otherwise have gone to their deaths — and who was afterward demoted and shunned by his own country (but long since recognized by Yad VaShem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations). What would Werner have said about the current anti-Semitic twist being put on this pandemic by those who hate us enough to blame us for everything that is wrong with our world? I’ve learned that’s the eternal question, never to be answered, but part of the legacy we accepted at Sinai.
So — what has the coronavirus taught you?

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