The “Daily Stoic” podcast this morning had for its meditation “What have you learned?”. This was in reference to the past year and the pandemic. The point: in every trying situation there is opportunity to learn something, about yourself or the world. One can grow. A bad event without growth is meaningless pain and sorrow.  So, what have I learned?

People do not change.  This is both a comfort and a sadness. I majored in Microbiology, and I have an appetence for History. I’ve studied every epidemic, pandemic, and plague of history. How we responded to Covid19 was no different than any other time. In a plague, governments first react by denying or downplaying it to protect commerce and their jobs. After the cat’s out of the bag, people go to extremes: they become quite conservative or openly defiant to what needs to be down. Others outside the group/nation are blamed for the bug (usually from the East); religious fervor kicks in and quack remedies arise take precedence over rationale remedies. The plague de jour lightens up and people prematurely drop their guard and the plague surges again.  Note: what next happens is the pathogen lingers on/off for awhile and it never completely goes away.   What varies is if the event gets into our collective memory or not. It will be curious to see if covid19 is forgotten, like the 1918 flu (which was worse) or becomes mythologized like The Great Mortality of 1348. Given the nation’s state to deny what it doesn’t want to believe, I’m voting for the former: years from now folks will say it wasn’t that bad, it was al a hype etc.

I did the right thing.  I did not panic; I did not hoard TP or food. I did defy what the experts and sensible people recommended to do. I did not exploit the situation to my gain at the loss of others. I was resilient with needed changes at work, home, and lifestyle. While I sorely missed the gym, travel, restaurants, etc. I did OK. Now that these are somewhat back to usual, it doesn’t feel like it was any great time lost. 

My countrymen are deplorable. The human reactions/behaviors mentioned in the first point are understandable but this time around we (the USA anyway) were so over-the-top and ill mannered in their reactions. I was abhorred and ashamed of the Ignorance and Hate that arose. Mind! That stuff was always there, it merely came out and in great amounts. While I feel I did the right thing, the nation did not – and they were so proud of it too. I do not see this mending anytime soon if ever. I feel I was born in a country of people, and now it has become a kennel of mad dogs.

The saying ‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good’ remains true. It is a comfort that while we really bungled the situation, we learned things we would not have learned otherwise.  So-called truisms were found to be false. People can work from home – myself included.  The covid19 vaccine was made in a novel way that opens up brave new world exciting treatments for other wee beasties that are certain to arise. Papers are already coming forth on the positive and negative effects of isolation on human psychology, these will teach us something about ourselves as a species. I hope we can learn from this.

Stoicism works – again.  Thems who prescribe to this philosophy see Life not knee-deep in buttercups and daisies but full up with obstacles, hardships, and problems – none of a divine nature. Regardless, if we endure and do the right thing and persevere, we will get through this somehow.  Again.

Gratitude. Technically I didn’t ‘learn this’ but it was heightened during the hard times. I continually reminded myself of the many things for which I am grateful. I had many assets to get me through the past fourteen months.  What I am more grateful for was the support and love of others. That includes you, my darlings. You are dears – all well over four feet.  I am glad you are there as we trek into the future, into the unknown. We will do the right thing, we will learn, and we will be together.