In his last week’s Covid briefing, President Trump said in passing that we would “have to learn to live with it” and “It is what it is.” No kidding! New guidelines!
Obviously, it is not so much about our “dying” anymore but how can we all LIVE with it and just feel OKAY? Not necessarily normal; just okay. Everybody has to find what makes them feel “safe and sound” — with the masks, eating outside, 6 feet from friends, once a week grocery runs, teeth cleanings with dentists who are goggled, shielded masked and gloved. Adapt, adapt, adapt! And for a long while.
You are on your own with finding your own “risk” level. And that is hard to calibrate obviously depending on where and how you live. Out west with caseloads climbing, dining at any curbside eatery is questionable, walking masked with an acquaintance is dicey, getting your head washed with another person even two seats away is instant death. Or how about not wiping down your steering wheel after you get your “drive through” latte … will that result in gasping for air hours later?
We are past sanitizing our FedEx and Amazon boxes and laundering our money, but we are still in that “risky” unsettled stage and screw “guidelines.” The “experts” constantly send mixed messages, leaving us too emotional, fearful and left in the unknown to figure it all out. It will take us a long time to find our “comfort zones.” What is that?
Some people are lucky to tune it all out and just have a “truth or dare” attitude or “live and let die” their lives. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. “I’m gonna live my life till I die.” Sometimes I envy that approach … until I don’t.
Cartoonist Roz Chast portrayed it best in her recent New Yorker “Guidelines.” Now they are mine!
Call it “Covid phobic” but phobia is now a stage for some of us who have no better way to navigate. I do try to drive my car every other day simply to remember how. And to realize I haven’t filled my tank in a month. How is it when I want to actually visit or see a person is a whole production. Outside? Curbside? How and why. Luckily Covid has taught me that most of the people (and even some places) I thought I should or had to see, I never have to see again!
Of course, learning how to exercise (gyms are now closed but luckily you can do it all at home with treadmills and bands and weights) and finding a new level of personal well-being is challenging. Just wearing a mask in heat and humidity is a huge adjustment.
We used to go to Pilates training and yoga/spinning classes for our wellness. It was a “service.” Now we have to learn to do it as a personal skill ourselves. Who has the discipline? That remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Pelaton bike and at-home classes are saving most people. Zoom is another story. People are barely holding on to that platform as a workout — it simply doesn’t cut it.
So many people have complained of depression or that sense of “weirdness” and alienation rather than actual sadness. But loss on some eerie level is still there. And a lot of younger people have been considering actual death… but herein is one of those “silver lining” Covid stories.
The NYT reported on a whole slew of new “end-of-life” agencies which are encouraging and creative. Mostly run by millennial-age women, they tapped into a market overwhelmed by all the traditional funeral arrangement and estate planning issues. Not to mention writing a will or even a final tweet. But this is no longer like Evelyn Waugh’s send-up novel “The Loved One.”
These death platforms are revolutionary when you think that most funeral houses and businesses are tired old complicated institutes of sadness and needless expense. These small start-ups (Cake, Lantern, New Narrative) are allowing people to have a “good death” for anyone and everyone. They are personalizing the death experience the way we do our weddings, graduations, and births.
There are now “death doulas” as well as “end of life photographers.” And they have created a network (Stay Near) for people to talk about their mortality or plans. They are finding that people are happier when you feel like you have control of your life and your final moments.
Covid has reduced the stigma and taboo of talking about death. There are also “deathfluencers” (Ask a mortician) online who can help you discuss tombstones, grief counseling and even making diamonds from your ashes.
At least some young people have now been awakened to the “end of life” issues in a new way. These agencies are even teaming up with hospitals, health systems and insurance agencies to make as much available to everyone at every financial level. So maybe we won’t have to see or hear about dead bodies overwhelming our morgues anymore with family members at a loss of how and why to “do death.”
On a personal level, my estate attorney has drawn up more wills in the last four months than ever before. Perhaps Covid did get us to think about death in a new and different way and to hammer home that none of us are immortal.
But meanwhile, back to risk and our daily lives. There is still a lot to be done on the personal protective gear. The latest is the BioVYZR, a purifying shield for everyday protection against virus and allergens. It looks impressive, but ridiculously cumbersome. Like you’re in a giant plastic awning, encasing your face and neck and strapped around your waist.
But hey, it’s just been reduced from $498 to $249! However, if I had to encase myself like that to go pick up my cleaning, I’d rather never go out. And this kind of design doesn’t help Covid-phobia. There is also a million-dollar offer called the Net-Gen Mask Challenge to anyone who can re-design a facemask that is more comfortable, functional, accessible, and yes, stylish! Good luck with that. Wouldn’t Shark Tank be the one to get that done even faster?
Recently, there have been more far-fetched signs that Covid may be putting some businesses at risk that we had not previously considered. For instance, Kanye West’s recent bi-polar breakdown while running for President may just lead the whole “Kardashian Nation” to take a fall. Witnessing that family empire go into disarray (while defending Kanye) is actually interesting.
I thought the Kardashian Era was foolproof, especially when Kim expressed her interest in getting a law degree with her prison reform initiative. Now she and her mother and sisters look as lost as Kanye in their tweeted bi-polar explanations. At long last … lip gloss and ass enhancements can’t save this current decline (sag?).
And finally, we have a rumor that Oprah has offered to let Harry and Meghan come and stay with her in her Montecito mansion since their rental is up at Tyler Perry’s $20 million-dollar retreat. It seems Oprah is doing a “project” with Harry on mental illness, so maybe having him stay on her premises can speed up the process. If anyone can save an ex-Royal’s soul, it would be Oprah.
The only problem there is nowadays aren’t having house guests the greatest risk of all? According to Roz Chast, that would be the personal equivalent of eating the entire NYC subway system.