PNW Coronavirus Chronicle #5: Ten Days in September

It is said that it only takes ten days to two weeks to form a new habit or adapt to changed or different circumstances. I’ve been living a sound-proofed existence as a result of being completely shut-in for the past ten days due to hazardous wildfire smoke. The smoke now finally cleared, I reopened my windows, and it is as if I let the entire outside world come rushing in. I’d grown accustomed to my muted environment without realizing it. So much so, that I am astonished how novel and how loud the sound of bird song, falling rain, rustling leaves and cars driving by all seem. It’s as if I’ve entered a strange, noisy alien world. Hearing a person walk down the hill to the park across the street startled me, giving me a moment’s panic that someone was walking in my home.

I’ve not added a new chapter to my pandemic chronicle in recent months because I’ve been tongue-tied, or whatever the writerly term is. Not blocked. Just too agitated to express anything but frustration and anger. It’s why I don’t consider journaling therapeutic. Instead of a means of processing thoughts and feelings into some sort of positive result, I usually end up more anxious than when I began. So, I don’t write when I’m stressed. Well, that’s not entirely true. I don’t post what I write. There were 40 revisions to this post stewing in the Draft file since the first week in June.

I think what’s recently unbound me are two things: One, summer is my busy time at work but now that I’m in the home stretch with the end in sight and most of the work done, I’m less stressed and able to turn my attention elsewhere. Second, I have finally accepted the circumstances of the pandemic as the way things are and will be for a long while yet. I refuse to use the term “new normal,” because like all catchphrases, it is overused. Plus, I do believe there will be a time that we will return to “normal.” Yes, some things will not be as they once were as a result of this experience, but ultimately? We are social animals locked into generations of conditioning. While it may take just a couple of weeks to form a new habit, it would take eons to reprogram thousands of years of human nature.

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