Life is going to be weird for a while. Until a few weeks ago, we had never heard the term “coronavirus.” Now it dominates our lives.
As I write these words, things are moving so quickly that by the time you read it, we may all be wearing bubble wrap. As perhaps we should.
Sporting events from T-Ball to the big leagues have been delayed or cancelled, Broadway is dark, college classes are online only, and many schools and churches are locked up. Toilet paper is sold out, and hand sanitizer is long gone. Studio audiences are being shooed away from talk shows. Try to give someone a handshake or a hug, and they’ll back away as if you’re contagious. Because you just might be.
No matter your age, there are few events that could truly be considered life changing. Of course, births, deaths, marriages and divorces rank right up there.
As a society, we’ve been impacted by wars, economic setbacks, weather catastrophes, violence, and terrorist attacks.
9-11 changed how we travel, how we secure our buildings, how we enter a public gathering, and how we screen those seeking to cross our borders.
The days of the wide open school house are long gone. Do you want to volunteer in your neighborhood school? You still can, but only after you are thoroughly screened and identified.
Try telling a teenager about the days when you simply bought a ticket and boarded an airplane, with no questions asked. They’ll look at you as if you just walked out of a black and white movie.
Our young friends also know nothing of a world in which concert-goers and sports fans merely handed over a ticket and walked through a clicking turnstile, without being frisked, and asked to empty their pockets and bags.
These are just a few ways our lives have been altered, in an effort to keep us safe. If you prefer to live in the past, watch “The Andy Griffith Show.” Deputy Barney Fife was jittery in 1960 Mayberry. How could he possibly cope in today’s world?
I have a friend who is a young Asian woman. She was adopted by US citizens at the age of five, and has been raised in Tennessee. She only speaks English, with a hint of a Southern accent. For the past few weeks, she says people have been “different” toward her. She works at a restaurant, and is often asked about “that Chinese virus,” as if she is somehow responsible.
It is not unlike the looks and comments fielded by many Muslims after 9-11. Their lives in the US, once uneventful, immediately took a turn, and they still deal with the after-effects today.
Hopefully some of the coronavirus effects will be temporary. Some pastors will tell you their churches are already too silent, with declining attendance. But if people cannot attend church services, those behind the pulpit will have to find other ways to spread their message. “Can I get an Amen?” Not today!
Those of us who enjoy watching TV shows with live audiences will miss the energy they provide. My favorite Johnny Carson moments involved, oddly enough, the silence of his studio audience. Remember when Johnny told a joke that absolutely bombed? He would stand stone-faced, as the audience was quieter than crickets on a hot summer night. His reaction was funnier than any joke that actually “landed.” But for now, the audience has truly been silenced.
Most of us have never experienced a March without NCAA basketball “Madness,” or a baseball season without spring training. This is not life as we know it. And, God forbid, if this was September, can you imagine an SEC football game played to an empty stadium? I can’t either.
Those of us who have family members or friends in other parts of the world have always admired their spirit of adventure. Now we pray for their health and well-being.
How will this affect us, long-term, well after the fears of a spreading disease have faded? Will we discover that online learning is just as effective as the traditional old schoolhouse? Often, major changes are influenced by the actions taken during a time of crisis. This could be one of them.
My friend and former co-worker Kristen Gum, now a nationally known TV travel host, summed it up best: She said, “I'm reaching for joy and happiness every second of the day. I am taking care of my body, my thoughts, my mind, and my soul. I'm eating healthy, staying away from sweets, alcohol, and anything that compromises my immune system. I'm not letting the panic and fear get to me. It’s how I live my life. Why change now?”
Yes, life is going to be weird for a while. But this too, shall pass.
David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at email@example.com, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405.