Remember the children’s game “gotcha last”? In our family we played it for hours. It actually drove our mother crazy but we couldn’t help ourselves. The game would stop for hours and then there would be a little subtle finger touch during the dinner hour that one of us would feel all too late and know we had been tagged and we were it.
Now it’s become a reality. Chances are, if someone is infected with the virus and comes within 6 feet of someone else, and then they happen to sneeze, another person will catch it. If we go to the gym and we use hand sanitizer but happen to miss one tiny spot and wipe our noses without thinking, boom, we have it.
This isn’t an exaggeration. No one in America likes to be told what to do. Everyone I know in my group of friends has claustrophobia.Everyone I know has abandonment tendencies and hates to be alone. Everyone I know thinks the idea of being told to stay home and in their house and to avoid social interaction is akin to being incarcerated.
Well, guess what? If we don’t stay home and we don’t keep our families at home we are jeopardizing our freedom to live. Yes, we are jeopardizing our right to stay alive. Yes, we are jeopardizing the right of all of our neighbors to stay alive and be safe and healthy.
It’s really time to realize that this is no joke. We need to take care of our country. We need to look after our elderly population and make sure everyone is taken care of. Staying home is not such a bad thing and it’s what we all should be doing right now.
I walk around my house and see how lucky I am because my house is filled with books many of which I have never read. Now I can read them.Now I can go in my garden and sit and reflect on a single camellia or the tenacity of an ant.
I am so grateful for the texts from my family which happen almost daily and the phone calls from my friends. They warm my heart and make me feel less alone than I’ve felt in years. Now is the time for us to reach out through our wonderful technology and communicate with our children and our grandchildren and our friends and our family and tell them we love them. Finally, technology is a good thing.
Now is not the time to go out to restaurants and cafés and parties and risk catching the virus and then spreading it to other people who may not be strong enough to survive it.
Now is the time to respect our medical personnel who risk so much to take care of us. Now is the time to guard our families by realizing that staying at home is actually a wonderful thing to be doing.
Consider our future and the future of our world and the safety of our population and make a decision to do your part in preventing the spread of this virus. Stay home. Read a book. Eat lightly. Take a walk. Pet your dog. Play a game with your kids. Delight in the sunrise and meditate longer. Take a bath. Practice deep breathing. Look at your scrapbooks. Get in touch with everyone you love and tell them you love them.
Do the best you can to stay safe and healthy and carry the world in your hands as if it’s a precious breath you would like to share with everyone around you. Just think, if everyone did this we would be safe.
I have a friend who manages a parking lot outside a large office building. The other day she told me that there were no longer many condoms found in the lot but there were many dental picks. I’m not sure if this is good or bad and I guess it depends on your point of view. Good to take care of your teeth but bad to miss out on passion.
Last winter I dated briefly a man who preferred women to have had plastic surgery. I didn’t know this initially and liked the fact that he seemed to have dated women in his age range which is highly unusual among men who are in their sixties. I have met so many men who think nothing of dating women who are younger than their daughters and actually believe these women are with them because of their “sophisticated outlook on the world and their wisdom.” The latter is a direct quote from a very rich man who was 65 and had been dating a woman who was 34. I know, I know. This sounds like the beginning of a lament from an older woman but I can’t help it. The arrogance of the male sex never ceases to amaze me. Anyway back to the man who liked his women to have plastic surgery….On our second date he announced that he usually didn’t date women like me and that I didn’t match his list of things he wanted in a woman. Now this should have been a warning to me but I am a writer, after all, and continually curious as to what will come next. Some other woman might have asked what was on his list but I knew my ego was too fragile for that information. He asked me during our first phone call if I liked to drink. I asked what he meant by that? He responded that he liked to share a bottle of wine at dinner and didn’t want to waste the wine by leaving some in the bottle. I learned during our first dinner that he could easily drink the entire bottle on his own and then think nothing of getting in his very large and expensive car and driving home across the Golden Gate bridge completely plastered. On our third date he mentioned that he was a firm believer in plastic surgery for everyone. I said I didn’t like that idea and found it confusing to see people’s changed faces and lack of character. I also confessed I might change my mind when I got old and droopy myself. He said he liked the way women looked once they had a “procedure”. I asked what he meant. He said they just looked better, smoother and younger. I started to do a little research on this man as he had a few public hits on the internet: parties he had been to and a few pictures of his ex girlfriends and a wife. This was a really interesting foray for me as I noticed almost immediately what he was admiring. There was a similar character in all of the women’s faces whether they were really lovely looking or just pretty. The faces had no character: they lacked personality and actually did look like the actresses who played parts in “Stepford Wives.”I can’t explain precisely what it is about surgery that changes a face but it does. I know many have written about this before but what interests me is that a man would prefer a characterless face over a face that had not been altered. Even if a woman was lovely to look at and young in years, this man preferred to have her surgically altered to remove all history from her face. So then I wondered what this would do for a man and did other man feel this way? I am still wondering. I think most men are frightened of becoming old and hate the signs they see in themselves of aging so perhaps it is reassuring to have a women whose face shows no history. No reflection of what they have known together in the past. No reminder of what was or might have been. How interesting. This may be a new personality disorder in the DSM IV. The man who prefers a remodeled face each time he meets a new lady so he will feel as if it’s the first time for them both and anything is possible.
So my friends and I decide to go to the movies in Vail where it has been so cold one doesn’t want to venture outside. We choose a movie we think will be entertaining and are excited to be going to a place where they serve dinner while you watch the movie.
After being shown to our very plush seats we discuss how exciting it is to be in these large and comfy black leather seats drinking a glass of wine and eating popcorn from an enormous bowl. We all comment on how wonderful this experience is and then we ponder the possibility of its business success. This mini math minute is solved once we see the bill for the movie, the wine, the popcorn and the water, but I still thought it was a fun deal to be sitting there as if you were in your own screening room.
The movie, “The Mechanic” was incredibly violent and bloody and the three of us spent much of the film with our eyes closed. People were killed for no apparent reason and the star of the film was so lacking in empathetic quality one couldn’t identify or root for any hero or heroine as there was none. All in all it was a high testosterone film with little to admire or engage with.
Next to our little group in the same row were three “Master of the Universe” men who were all in the late 50’s, early 60’s, well dressed and attractive: clearly a man’s night out in Vail. They ordered large, fat hamburgers and cokes. Not a drink among them.
During the film a couple arrived and sat in the front row where they began a conversation that consisted of loud giggling on the part of the woman and loud voiced remarks from her date. They ordered many drinks which the waiter brought to them despite the theater policy of no drinks after the show began. Their conversation became louder and more suggestive but the film was so loud I forgot about them. Apparently the three “masters of the Universe” did not.
When the film ended they pushed past us to exit the row and almost ran down the stairs to confront the couple. One man shoved the small, rather drunk man, saying “What do you think you were doing? You are asking for it. You want it? Come on, you want it? “
His friends joined in, shoving the drunk guy and pushing him to the ground. Others in the theater tried to intervene but the Masters were having none of it. The drunken guy just kept laughing. One of the master’s, the same guy I think, started in on the woman saying, “Where’s that slut that was with you?”
At this point I felt as if I was back in the film but I couldn’t leave the theater. Within one minute there was a violent fight going on in front of my nose and blocking the exit. Men who tried to intervene were shoved aside and the drunk guy was repeated shoved to the floor while the Master’s said, “Want more, oh yeah, you little creep, want some more?”
Finally we slipped by the fight scene and left the theater but not before asking the front desk woman to call 911. She responded that she couldn’t leave her post.
When we got home we all breathed a sigh of relief and none of us felt good. These men were out of control and beating up a much smaller and much drunker guy who only crime was alcohol abuse and silliness. Why did they do this, we wondered? They hadn’t been drinking which made their behavior even scarier. Why were they so angry and why did they cause a major scene in front of others, frightening all of us? They were clearly well off, attractive and successful guys so why did they get so out of control so quickly and indulge in behavior that was so wrong on so many levels?
Was it the combination of the film violence and the lack of empathy, perhaps the fact that the only woman in the film was a prostitute, or is this possibility for explosion lurking underneath all the high testosterone males today? A remnant from the cave man fighting for territory days.
I have no answer. All that I can say is that it was terrifying.
The meaning of the word is interesting, isn’t it? Someone can be stroked by someone else, be slapped by someone else, have a stroke of luck, or have their brain slapped by itself resulting in some kind of disability. Recently a friend of mine had a stroke and she happens to be 88.
She was at home and suddenly felt her left arm lose feeling, her mouth lose control, and she felt off balance. She had a friend drive her to the Emergency Room where she put on lipstick before the doctor came into the room. The doctor briefly examined her, inquired about her symptoms, and told her it was fine to go home saying there was nothing seriously wrong as far as he could see.
Being a dutiful sort of person she didn’t argue but meekly left the hospital for her home twenty minutes away. As she is a very intelligent woman she immediately went to her computer, got online and googled her symptoms: she realized she had, in all probability, had a stroke. The symptoms became more pronounced and in twelve hours she returned to the Emergency Room without makeup or sophisticated dress and was taken more seriously. This time she did not allow herself to be dismissed and the doctor on call immediately understood the seriousness of the situation. He ordered a CAT scan which clearly spelled out where in her brain the stroke had happened. She was admitted instantly and treatment was begun.
Why am I telling this story? Well, for a lot of reasons. The obvious reason is that here is a story of how an older WOMAN can be viewed by medical personnel if she is wearing nice clothing, has makeup on, and discounts her symptoms. My friend was trained in childhood never to complain and she doesn’t. She is constantly brave and stalwart no matter what happens in her life and a lot has happened.
I am also telling the story because it is about death and how we feel about death. My daughter brought my friend a copy of the video done by Jill Bolte Taylor called “My Stroke of Insight” and they watched it together. For those of you who have not seen the video it is about the author’s experience of having a stroke at age 37 and what happened to her during the time she was experiencing the stroke and her subsequent recovery. It has been all over the internet as people who watch it are inspired by Taylor’s description of her passage into a place where she had no control and her resulting “right brain consciousness” She describes her transition into spirituality and a deeper understanding of all that is possible in life.
To my daughter’s astonishment, my friend was disgusted by the video, claiming the scientist had publicized her experience to make money and discounting her insights into life and the spiritual side of things. The funny thing was later that day I visited the house bringing with me a copy of Taylor’s book not knowing my daughter had already previewed the film with my friend. I find this kind of synchronicity often happens with my daughter but that’s another tale.
Here’s my final analysis: I think all of us are frightened of death and the closer we get to it the more frightened we are. I have been with older people as they faced death and with younger people and I find that the younger people often have a more gentle outlook on what is going to happen after they move on from this life. Maybe because they have been exposed to a different type of spiritual understanding of life, the possibility of life after death, reincarnation or some type of reassuring picture that death is not a final journey where the light turns off and we are nonexistent. I think older people were not able to have the luxury that younger generations have of examining life and its meaning and hanging on to hope and to the idea of universal love. The power of actualization and the belief that you can create your own destiny. I have a feeling that if you haven’t ventured donw the spirituality path during your lifetime whether in church, temple or Buddhist meditation, you may have a hard time when faced with your own immortality.
My mother was terrified of death and often asked me what I thought happened once you stopped breathing. She once asked if I could go with her as it would “be more fun with me there”. In the end she fought dying with her every gasping breath, a death rattle that went on for two weeks. Painful to watch, not for me but for her.
My friend who had the stroke asked me recently what I thought happened after death and said she had read of those who meet dead friends who are sent to greet them. I agreed with her and said I believed this to be true. I am not sure she believed me but I was happy she was considering the possibility. I feel tremendous love for my friend and already a deep sense of loss for her place in my life. I like to be with people when they are at life’s end and hope that my comments are reassuring to them. It often surprises me at how reluctant the healthy are to discuss death with their loved ones who may be dying. If we spent a little time understanding and accepting death while we are still vibrantly alive it might be helpful when we face the real thing.