Before Earth Day became a national holiday it was originally celebrated in Berkeley, CA in the late 1960s. I worked there at California School for the Deaf and we were having a terrible problem with the kids getting head lice. None of us had even heard of head lice before because they didn’t exist in our area. We tried everything we could think of, but the lice kept spreading more and more. (Now I realize that was because the children’s combs and brushes in each dormitory were all washed in the same tub of water.) Finally one of the staff members went down to the Public Health Department and brought back a powdered substance they suggested we use. Sure enough, it worked. But I’ll never forget that we spent the first Earth Day putting DDT on all the children’s heads.
Since I’m a writer I have an active imagination. I’ve been imagining a science fiction world where people could communicate all over their planet using magical devices that allowed them to actually see and hear each other from thousands of miles away. But they were mysterious when they met in person because everyone who went out in public had to wear a mask. Oh! That’s not science fiction. It’s the world we actually live in today! If someone were to time travel from the past – even as little as 50 years ago – to our time, what would they think? And what might our planet be like fifty years in the future?
With all the people getting sick and dying, businesses going bankrupt, people loosing their jobs, and the nasty politics going on it’s easy to become discouraged and depressed. But there are lots of good things happening, too. People all over the world are sharing information to help each other. Nearly everyone is doing their part to prevent the spread of the virus, not only to protect themselves, but to help protect everyone. Many of us are learning to do tech things like use Zoom that we didn’t use in the past, and we appreciate the modern technology that allows us to stay in touch. Lots of businesses and organizations are producing products and equipment they never did before to help fight the virus. While nasty politics is still happening, we’re no longer focused on that as much as we were. We are learning to appreciate things we used to take for granted. Since now nearly everyone on our planet shares one concern, perhaps that will help the relationships between cultures and nations to be more positive in the future.
At first while being on “house arrest” because of the Corona Virus, I felt like I was going stir crazy. Walking my dog around the block and going to a store one early morning a week were not enough contact with other people. But now I’m sort of used to it. I interact with lots of people on Facebook and have had phone chat’s with lots of old friends and family I hadn’t talked with in a long time. I’m getting some projects I’ve been putting off done around the house, writing, and reading lots of books that have been unopened on my shelves for years. Of course, like everyone else, I’m worried about the economy, and hope I don’t get the virus. (I know one person who had it. He’s recovering but still under quarantine.) I miss seeing people in person and being able to go wherever I want. But I”m taking it one day at a time and enjoying the opportunity to relax and enjoy one day at a time.
Some people in my family have birthdays on holidays. One was born on New Years Day, one was born on both Easter Sunday and April Fools Day. One was born on a holiday that no longer exists, Decoration Day. One was born on the Fourth of July. And one of my grandkids was born 100 years and only one day different than my mother. As for me, I just have an ordinary birthday. What about you?
All the news about people wearing masks because of the corona virus reminded me of the old radio show I used to listen to, The Lone Ranger. Of course his mask covers the top of his face, not the nose and mouth like the ones people are wearing now do. But my writerly imagination is acting up again. What if some disease could also be transmitted through people’s eyes, so we all had to wear sunglasses all the time. And don’t some doctors wear things that cover their eyes and let them see what the normal human eye can’t? And what if an army of heroes, wearing that kind of masks and eye coverings were to set out to save the world? Oh, wait a minute. There are already people doing that. We call them doctors. Like all the super heroes, they also have sidekicks. We call those nurses, medical technicians and scientists. Even the people who clean and handle paperwork in their offices and facilities are part of their teams. So let’s cheer for all the heroes and superheroes in the real world today.
Okay, I’ve posted enough about the epidemic on my blog. It’s time for something more positive. We live in amazing times, with international travel and instant internet connections that let us communicate quickly all over the planet taken for granted. But I wonder what people from the past would think if they were to time travel to our time. And, would we like to go back to times without things like the internet, cars, and indoor plumbing? If you could time travel to any time, past or future, where would you like to go?
My parents were little kids during the Spanish Influenza epidemic. That has made me think about all the plagues and diseases in the history of the world. In ancient times lots of people didn’t live to adulthood, and the life expectance was much less than it is now. Of course hundreds of years ago epidemics didn’t spread all over the planet, because way back then people didn’t even know he world was round. Even a hundred years ago travel wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is now. But most medicines and medical devices were invented in the last century or two, many even more recently. And, thanks to modern inventions like the internet, we can share our knowledge all over the world quickly. Yes, these are scary times, and even after the epidemic is over the economic repercussions will last for quite a while. But people all over the world are sharing helpful information and showing that we care for each other. We really are all one family.
People (like me) who live alone and must avoid other people because of the Corona virus might be getting bored. We can only spend so much time on the internet or watching TV. I’m a bookaholic, and it’s a luxury for me to have hours of uninterrupted time to read books I’ve had on my shelves for years. But even that isn’t enough to fill up the days. Here are some other things to do. We may not want to open windows or stand on balconies to serenade everyone in the neighborhood like people in Italy are doing. (If I tried that my neighbors would probably have their ears poisoned.) But we can sing at home. And we can play old recordings of music and dance along with it. If we have any hobbies or projects we haven’t done in a long time we can take those out and revive them. There may be things we’ve been putting off around our homes or yards, like repairs or yard work. This is a good time to get them done. Of course we should all be doing deep cleaning now. And, since we may not be able to go out and shop for food, we can try cooking up some new recipes. Art is a good way to spend some time, even if we don’t have the talent or materials to do it well. Anyone can use a pen or pencil and some paper – even the back of an envelope – to draw things. We don’t have to let anyone else see them. As a writer, I know we can always make up stories. Every story has a main character who wants something badly, but there are obstacles to keep him or her from getting it. The character must try to over come the obstacles – usually there are three. The first attempt doesn’t solve the problem, the second try doesn’t work, but the third one is a success – unless the story is a tragedy. Those of us who have pets can spend more time than usual snuggling and playing with them. What else can people do while staying home?
The news and internet are even more full of negative things than usual. Everyone in the world is concerned – or even terrified – about the Corona virus. But I’m positively impressed with the amount of helpful information out there, especially on the internet. People aren’t only concerned about protecting themselves when they post what they know about how we can protect ourselves from that disease. They’re sharing helpful information all over the world in order to help each other. Instead of talking about hostile political views and trying to sell things, people are showing that they care about others. We are all one family and by helping others we are helping ourselves.