How are you faring?
Many of us have lived through some strange and rough times, but I think it’s fair to say, our lives today are unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes.
I heard firsthand reports from my parents and grandparents about the difficulties of wartime, and I know those days were in many ways far more difficult — both for those on the front lines and for the families left behind, living on rations and worried sick.
So, I don’t mean to suggest that what we’re experiencing today is worse than earlier times of deprivation.
In fact, thanks to technology, we have it relatively easy. We can speak with and see, via video, family members and friends anywhere in the world, at the touch of a button and (once we have the equipment) basically free of charge.
That’s a huge benefit over snail mail (especially the old aerograms we used to mail overseas) and the tremendously expensive long-distance calls we used to make once in a while.
We can have delivered to our door in a matter of hours pretty much anything we need or want, running the gamut from necessities, like groceries and paper goods, to frivolities.
But we have some very different challenges this time around that, as I say, I believe are unique.
First, we are all, basically, living alone in our own bubbles.
Ironically, people throughout the entire world share our pain (and the virus), and are experiencing some version of the same problems. And yet we have never been more alone as individuals.
Because the current “enemy” is invisible, implacable and potentially anywhere at any time, we are told we must maintain “social distance” from all other people. We are, for the most part, barricaded in our homes, many of us alone.
And even for those who have partners, I know couples who are sleeping in separate bedrooms and eating at opposite ends of the dining room table because one of them was possibly exposed to a carrier. They must feel like they are trapped in the castle of Beauty & the Beast.
When my wife and I took a short walk recently to get out of the house on a pretty spring day, we and the few other walkers we encountered in the woods gave each other a wide berth.
We were also, oddly, reserved in even nodding hello to each other or giving and replying to a greeting, as if the mere tilt of our heads or opening of our mouths would let demons loose upon the world.
Because it’s vital that we all shelter in place and avoid public gatherings, all means of in-person entertainment have shut down. Again, thanks to technology, there’s hardly a movie we can’t see whenever we want, or a cuisine we can’t order for delivery to our front door, but there’s the undeniable loss of “experiences.”
Without dining out in public or sharing theatre, music and film with fellow audience members, the enjoyment is seriously lessened.
For those of us accustomed to attending synagogue, church or mosque, there is nothing stranger than praying alone on the Sabbath. There is strength in numbers, even in spiritual matters, and no longer hearing our voice join with others in singing a hymn or prayer makes us feel small and frail.
So, what is life like for you now?
Among the many answers I might expect to hear are, “I’m going stir crazy,” “I’m feeling depressed,” or perhaps, “I’m finally cleaning out my attic.”
I think it might be enlightening to all of us who read the Beacon, and to the professionals in the aging world whose careers revolve around our needs, to hear from you.
We have a survey form on the opposite page. Honestly, we had originally scheduled this month for one of our occasional “reader surveys,” asking questions about your views of the Beacon and the purchases you plan on making in coming months.
But in light of how life has so drastically changed in the last few weeks, we have completely changed our focus.
Now we want to know how you are coping, how you feel about your current situation, what services you are in need of, whether you are lonely or depressed. Yes, these are very personal questions, and no one can make you answer them.
It may, however, be helpful for you and others in your situation if we can compile your responses and share them in aggregate with local leaders.
If you are reading this in a printed copy of the Beacon, that means you have picked up a copy either when visiting a grocery store or pharmacy for essentials, or you subscribe.
You can simply fill out the survey, put it in a stamped envelope and leave it for your mail carrier to return to our office. (Someone goes in weekly to collect the mail.)
If you prefer, or if you are reading this online, please complete the survey online at bit.ly/tbns0420.
I will share results with you in a future column.
In the meantime, stay safe, be careful, be well. And be in touch.
Also, if you would like to receive the Beacon FREE via email each month or if you are not currently a subscriber and would like to subscribe to the print edition at half price ($6/year + tax), please call our office at (301) 949-9766 and leave your phone number for a call-back.