Social Distancing: Turns Out I’ve Been Practicing This for Years

It would seem many are put out by this forced social separation to stave off the spread of the Coronavirus. In taking an inventory of things in my life, I realized that there isn’t a significant difference in my daily activity between BC (Before Coronavirus) and DC (During Coronavirus.)

While I am certain those who live in an urban environment find it much more disruptive, I live in a neighborhood. One modeled on the post-WWII design and celebrated in that classic tune by the Monkees, Pleasant Valley Sunday.

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
Serenade the weekend squire, who just came out to mow his lawn

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care

See Mrs. Gray, she’s proud today because her roses are in bloom
Mr. Green he’s so serene, He’s got a TV in every room

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understand

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of scenery

Ta Ta Ta…

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday…

Who knew how prescient those architects of the 1950s were,  envisioning a time when we would need houses built with a space between them, perfect for maintaining a non-lethal distance from our neighbors?

As to my daily routine, little has changed there either. I get up sometime between 5 and 6 am, write for a few hours. Then I make coffee and breakfast when my wife gets up, attend to any chores around the house, write and/or edit more, perhaps work on our puzzle addiction, read for a few hours.

Then repeat.

The only noticeable change is our shopping habits. We abandoned the concept of doing a giant shopping long ago, instead buying a few things to make for dinner and stocking up on just the essentials for breakfast or lunch.

The difference here is we now can have all that stuff delivered.

This both supports the economy and puts money in the pockets of those Instacart, GrubHub, and DoorDash drivers. Who thought such normally invisible occupations would become essential, rising from anonymity to rock star level popularity?

In scenes reminiscent of my childhood, I now keep an eye out for the delivery trucks like I did for Palagi’s Ice Cream.  They could bring a tear to many an eye if they installed bells on the trucks to ring as they entered a neighborhood.

In this greatest of countries in the world, one can even get beer, wine, and vodka delivered. This may not be Nirvana or Paradise, but it is a reasonable facsimile.

I think the younger generations—enamored of Instant Messaging, Texting, and Facetime—are more prepared for the siege of isolation. Those apps are their preferred form of communication, even when sitting next to each other.

For me, I often leave my phone at home just to increase my level of isolation. I miss the days when phones stayed tethered to a structure where they belonged.

When phones morphed from household furniture to what amounts to a virtual ankle bracelet–monitoring our every move and putting us in constant communication–we lost a bit of our freedom and independence.

Progress isn’t always progressive.

Our other addiction is taking walks. Once, we took one along the Appalachian Trail. My daughter will not be shocked I mentioned this. She will tell you it was only a matter of time. There’s a joke about people who’ve hiked the trail.

How can you tell if someone has hiked the Appalachian Trail?
Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

And so it goes.

We’ve continued our daily walks, weather permitting. The nearby bike path is deserted on most days, but there’s been a slight uptick in the numbers on nicer days. Still, the logistics of walking the path allow a proper separation.

When the crowds (such as they are) prohibit this, we walk the neighborhood where everyone has adopted to “move to the opposite side of the street” policy.  It makes for a pleasant walk, the opportunity to say hello to our fellow inmates, and avoid the constant bombardment of the latest statistics on the virus. 

When the occasional thoughts of going out to dinner, or for a drink, or seeking some outside social contact come wafting up from my subconscious mind, I take pause. I measure the loss against what I am doing. For me at least, it’s hardly worth noticing.

Turns out, I am good at this social distancing/separation thing. But I won’t miss all the cars being driven by people wearing masks. Lines of traffic now look like a casting call for a show about an Emergency Room.

But the inevitable time will pass, and soon AC (After Coronavirus) will be upon us.

While it is important to stay informed and practice this separation, it is just as important to live life.  You can’t get these days back, so make the most of it. When this passes, as it will, some of you might want to hold on to a moment or two of self-isolation. Time spent in quiet contemplation, absent all the hustle and bustle of life, might do you some good.

Perhaps it will make you better appreciate—and see the differences in—all the things you have that truly matter, and what you can do without.  Learning to separate the flotsam and jetsam of life from the things that make life worth living might make all this temporary disruption to the world something more than just self-preservation.

P.S. For those of you familiar with the Monkees tune, no need to thank me for that song playing over and over in your mind. Consider it a soundtrack for your isolation. JB

2 thoughts on “Social Distancing: Turns Out I’ve Been Practicing This for Years

  1. “They could bring a tear to many an eye if they installed bells on the trucks to ring as they entered a neighborhood.”

    I laughed out loud at this one… thanks, Joe

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