These are strange times. In the past 24 hours, I’ve had one speaking event cancelled, two classes postponed, and my yoga class is on hiatus until further notice. To be clear, I think all of this is a good thing. No one needs to risk becoming ill or infecting others in pursuit of a few asanas. Until America catches up to the rest of the world in our ability to test for the virus, we should be extra diligent in practicing good hygiene and social distancing. At this point, it’s pretty clear that we have no idea what we’re really dealing with.
Like most writers, I don’t mind extended stretches of isolation. Over the next few weeks, I’ll get more work done on my next novel. I’ll hammer out an editing project. I’ll read a lot. I’ll watch the movies I’ve been wanting to see for months. I’ll probably bake cookies. And bread. I’ll definitely make a batch of soup from the stuff in my freezer and my produce drawer. But I know that not everyone shares my love of staying home. And I know that for many people staying home means going without a paycheck. I certainly hope our elected officials find a way to bail out the average worker while they are twisting themselves in knots to help the multi-billion dollar airline industry. If they don’t, well, it’s one more stark reminder that we have the power to radically change our government in the next election. Those down-ballot races matter more than ever.
I don’t have any suggestions or solutions or profound thoughts about any of this. I am disgusted that the Senate tried to delay taking up a relief bill so they could take a scheduled vacation. I am appalled by our country’s lack of preparedness to respond nimbly to this situation. I am perplexed by the seeming reluctance to test people who need to be tested. I am suspicious of the people disseminating information, particularly when that information keeps turning out to be wrong. I am concerned about my relatives and friends who fall into the higher risk categories. I am compulsive about washing my own hands and wiping down my phone and computer.
But, mostly, I am hopeful. I believe ordinary people will make good decisions for the greater good. I believe we will look after one another. I believe we will be compassionate. I believe we will be patient. I believe we will be kind. I believe all of this, because it’s what I’ve seen thus far. Sure, some people have been boneheads (I’m looking at you, toilet paper hoarders!), but most of the people I interact with have been sensible, calm, and caring.
I believe that we’ll get through this with strength and with grace, not because of our government, but in spite of it. I don’t have much faith in the Senate, but I have all kinds of faith in us. (Also, I have faith in Katie Porter, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite members of Congress.)
Let’s remember that we’re all in this together. Check on your elderly neighbors. Call your mom. Wash your hands. Read books. Stay hydrated. Take walks outside if you can. Do an online yoga class.
I hope to see you soon at some bookstore or library or book festival where the only thing we spread is news about what we plan to read next.