I was actually able to dig up one of my old art history textbooks for this. I’m both surprised that I still have it and that I was still able to research through a textbook. Why? The Danse Macabre.
Art following the Black Death in the 1340’s was predominantly the Danse Macabre. The link of it was life and death, with skeletons dancing and going through their normal day to day routines. It’s dramatic and stunning. In the years following (going up to and inclusive of the 2000’s for post-secondary art students), we looked through the style of art and what it meant socially, politically and what the impact was on the world. The Bubonic Plague. Danse Macarbe.
Run forward a few hundred years. We have the current pandemic of the CoronaVirus. The definition of pandemic is when a condition spreads across continents and internationally, so yes, this falls into this category as well. Let’s ask ourselves, what is the memory going to be of this? What art are we going to be remembered by? Memes. Memes about Costco and bathroom tissue. That is the type of art that we currently have. COVID-19 and memes. I’m not being flippant about the condition. I’m a bit embarrassed about the memes and the impact that is going to have going forward as the role. I’m a bit embarrassed that in 600 years, art history students will see memes about Costco as the record of how we interpreted and represented to ourselves during a force majeure.
Friday I went to the grocery store to the pharmacy. I was amazed at all the people who were there, not just the grocery store but also at the pharmacy. It’s not just me who needs medication. I can only get three months supply and I really hope this pandemic doesn’t last longer than that. Technically, I fall in the vulnerable category but there are a lot of other people who do as well. It’s not just people who are older, it includes people with underlying medical conditions or with medications that causes immune deficiency. We need patience and support and love for everyone.
Friday was a bad day for me. I cried, a lot. Someone I care about was supposed to come to Victoria this weekend but the airports are hot-spots for the virus. Flying wouldn’t be safe for him, and him going through three airports and then coming to Victoria wouldn’t be safe for me. Self-isolation isn’t possible in my tiny apartment for more than one person. One of my other friends is stuck in the US with her kids (at least the weather is warmer and she has her kids) but I am worrying about them too.
Selfish of me, yes.
It’s hard to admit that. It’s hard to acknowledge that. It’s hard to respect that I am willing to put myself and others at risk because I miss them. “Others at risk” is all the people at the airports too. I’m scared about what is happening and yet selfish enough to risk it.
This is one of those circumstances that doesn’t come up often (thankfully). Here’s where I get really selfish. It’s kind of circumstance where what I am thinking is that if I have epilepsy, if I have deal with this condition, other things should work out for me. One month ago (yesterday) I was admitted to a hospital. After a week there, I had to spend a week in recovery. The week in recovery was mostly in isolation. Not because I had to be isolated, just an unfortunate combination of timing of people being away and me being asleep a lot. Shouldn’t I be allowed to have some positive things, get to have some things work out, not to be sick? Not to be focused on myself and my health in a pharmaceutical way? I like to think there must be more people with medical conditions that think this way than just me. Not just even medical conditions, but trauma in any form. It’s not fair, and that’s true. It’s not. That’s how it is. I know I say all the time that our lives are about “choice” and “this is our reality”, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I resent it too.
Maybe this is the point. It is very easy to be selfish. Easy to be cruel. Everyone is capable of focusing on themselves and this international situation is the perfect example of people directing their attention on their lives and their loved ones.
At the same time, I am very sorry for everyone who had to cancel their trip. Who had to rush home early from a trip to avoid being stuck somewhere. Who is standing in line at the airports to go through contamination screening. I am sorry for all the people who are worried about obtaining enough food and necessities for their families (not the people who have 100’s of rolls of bathroom tissue or hand sanitizer). I’m so sorry for the people who are vulnerable, or in a high-risk area. I’m sorry for the people who don’t have homes to go to. I hope as many of us can join as a community, and an international community at that, and endure this.
Let’s be more than just the memes. Let’s be more as a world community than just jokes about what is happening.
As one more point: Not everyone is an introvert. For all the people who are excited about not going out and not having to interact, there is someone who *loves* that and thrives on social interaction. If you have someone in your life like that, call them. Daily. To them, isolation is harder than just making sure there’s enough hand soap.