We are all deluged with advisories, announcements, assessments and an assortment of reports, studies, updates and various prognostications about the ... .yes, coronavirus. From my automobile dealer to my urologist everyone is concerned about ME, but all are doing their best to make sure I don't see them except under very stringent circumstances.
Social distancing means avoiding almost all human contact.
As the rebel without a cause mused, "Well, then, there, now." What to do?
When we distance ourselves from others, it is perfect time to focus internally -- a time for self-analysis. There will be a "time after." While we must take all reasonable steps to ameliorate the peril upon all of us, we might also use this unprecedented break in life's many continuities to assess ourselves, our own goals, actions and outlooks as we go through these "worst of times".
So, I encourage all of you to engage in rich speculation about what will be, about who you might be or become after the pandemic -- especially for those young people whose schools are closed nationwide. And consider what big changes in society will come from all of this.
A great way to start is to document the pandemic as it affects you in your own town, circumstances, family and social groups. Throughout history we have had plagues, pestilence and pandemics. Their chroniclers all have served to give posterity valuable insights to commonalities in these occurrences.
For example, the great poet Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) described some measures taken in his city of Florence in 1348. They sound familiar: periodic cleansing of public places, refusal of entry to suspected carriers of disease, avoiding touching of sick persons or contaminated things. Quackery and rumor were themselves pandemic. And authorities were criticized for not doing enough.
To take a different example, from the Great Plague of London in 1665, Samuel Pepys, the greatest diarist in the English language, declared it was hard to know true numbers of fatalities. Six thousand might really be ten thousand.
Your own chronicle is important in several ways. For your own future and your posterity, it will be a valuable source of information, stories, learning and relating. Just as important, it will be self-analytical, because all of it will be a subjective rendering of conditions, a very personal reaction to events and situations. If you use other mediums to record, like photographs and video, they too will involve choices you make in preserving impressions, revealing yourself in the process.
As you confront the pandemic, you confront yourself.