The Global Schism

Global Schism

When I wake up in the morning, I think about the virus. Once at work, the signs of COVID-19 and its effects are all around me. If I glance at my phone on break or lunch, I am reminded of a bleak modern reality. Even after work, I feel no escape when I join a video “meet up” for happy hour with friends, because we would be hanging out in person if it wasn’t for the asshole in the room. The conversations I have with friends always circle back to coronavirus. Everything is heavy, insulating, and for some, devastating. Despite my ego telling me that the pandemic is the only element of concern, other events – both sad and happy – are transpiring all around the world. The planet hasn’t stopped turning.

Global Schism

The concept of a “global” pandemic is hard to conceptualize. More than seven billion people live on our planet and all of them are affected in some way or another by the crisis. The numbers are baffling. A global schism is happening. We are living in a Twilight Zone episode where the hyper-realism of stay-at-home orders and dead bodies blurs with surreal numbers involved. The days of the week have lost all meaning. Time has finally reared its imaginary head. The coronavius wraps around us like a cocoon.

Global Schism

We’re all confined to the walls where we live and work. For many, they are one in the same. But essential personnel still must go out and face the public with their new importance in society. The ones without work must find a way to occupy their time. All three heads of this dragon are controlled by an emotional and physical leash. New rules or quarantine extensions come down the pipe every day. Tension is the new normal. When will we be set loose?

Global Schism

My best friend lost his father about a week ago from a long bout with failing health. His grandfather passed away a few weeks prior. Two generations of his family were gone within a month. Neither of the deaths were directly related to the coronavirus but struck me as far away because of our isolated existence during the pandemic. I couldn’t hang out with my friend and his brother and share good memories over whiskey. I loathe the idea of “Zooming” with someone after their father dies. So, I couldn’t be there for my friend in a tangible way. I must settle for periodic phone calls and text messages.

Global Schism

The same week that my friend was wading through his grief, two other close friends had their second child. Death and birth are everywhere. The happy parents have a healthy little boy and they couldn’t be more excited. Their household is filling up. We are growing old. But they usually have a barbecue where we gather and shoot the shit. Not this time, at least not yet.

None of these life changing events seem real when my days are on a short cycle of walking around naked in my apartment, helping wild eyed rich people with their groceries, biking through the park, and repeating it all over again and again. Eventually, we will be able to gather and celebrate life at both the beginning and end. For now, everyone is sealed off in their own little worlds.

Global Schism

Even the minutiae of the pandemic – like wearing masks – are schismatic in nature. I feel removed from society when I wear one even though everyone else is sporting them too. It’s uncomfortable to breathe through, nearly impossible to understand what people say, and you can’t see the expressions on their faces. I must deal with reality on my own terms. At this moment, I feel like an animal at the zoo looking out at a world I only partially comprehend.

3 thoughts on “The Global Schism

  1. I feel a lot of truth in this. When I’m out, seeing others in their masks, I’m reminded of the oft written line from Stephen King, “but the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.” It can be frustratingly difficult to get a tangible sense of others when you can only see their eyes. Especially in a society where direct eye contact is often perceived as a threat/advance. Perhaps this event will lead to a shift in that social norm…

  2. I feel that disassociation in public. I’m generally a cheerful person. I try to smile at people and enjoy the return smiles. Smiles are infectious, sending visual pleasantries around to others, lighten tense moments, give people a sense of cheer. Now smiles can’t be seen, or returned. Now the stress is more pervasive and can’t be alleviated so simply. Conversations are not happening or they’re abrieviated because we can’t see expressions. The mask has become one more barrier in social sharing.
    Lydia Archer

  3. Yesterday, I went to my office building, because I knew it would be empty and safe. Had some scanning to do.

    Saw my coffee mug and remembered I used to start my day with about four cups and then make myself some oatmeal. Highlight of the day more often than not. I stopped at the cubicle of a young woman who is holding our operation together and thought about how we’d greet each other every morning and talk about how we hate most people but love our dogs.

    I used to spend my days in this place a thousand years ago. Until this past March, I think.

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