After the NTSB investigation into US Airways flight 1549 – the one that was so rudely interrupted by a flock of Canada Geese, and plunged into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 – the pilots were asked if they would’ve done anything differently. Notwithstanding the whole episode was one of heroic achievement (“The Miracle on the Hudson”)… nobody died, the movie (Tom Hanks) was made, and so on… still, it’s a question worth asking. First Officer Jeff Skiles had an answer: “I would’ve done it in July.”
Sure, if you’re going to plunge a plane into a river, the warmer summer waters are preferable to the icy winter alternative. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that choice.
Similarly, nobody chose the starting date for this pandemic… but if we’d had to have made that choice, chances are, around here, we would’ve picked almost exactly what we got; right at the start of spring, as the weather gets better, the air is warmer and the skies are bluer. We would’ve chosen that, because, at least, it’s a more gradual descent into the sort of unpleasantness that now awaits us.
There was never any chance of this going away by the end of the year; the “12 to 18 months” thing was an ambitious take, already factoring in the corner-cutting and fast-tracking that would otherwise take years… but, six-plus months into it, those estimates are looking pretty good. The unfortunate part of this is that it’s not going to go away “suddenly”. It’s not like the virus will one day sign a surrender to the allies and we’ll all be dancing in the streets. But, after all this time, much has been learned about treatment. In the coming new year, eventually, we’ll all have immunity. There will be vaccines… probably numerous ones, all landing at the same time. A few will get the big OK from Health Canada and over time we’ll all have access to them, and, slowly… things will head back to normal.
The point of all that is a crucial one – and one we all need to keep in mind, especially since we haven’t managed to get rid of daylight savings time yet – that soon, it will be dark and cold and depressing, and this holiday season, already a stressful time for anyone that’s not a kid, will be worse than usual. It’s easy to say, “Hang in there”; it’s harder to actually hang in there, and the mental health toll of this pandemic is becoming evident. But the crucial point is this – as hard as it is to believe it sometimes – and that is… that there *is* a finish line… that there *is* a normal world on the other side of it… and we *will* eventually get there.
Dr. Henry has etched into us a slogan that we’ll never forget… but there’s more to “be kind, be calm and be safe” than just being polite to the stressed-but-socially-distanced crowd at the supermarket; it’s just as much an inward-facing mantra that you deserve to hear and you deserve to live: Be kind to yourself. Stay calm. Do what you can to remain safe. That is all very much the starting point to coming out of this is one peace, because it’s not just a matter of healthy lungs. A healthy brain is part of it too. And remember, the way you’re feeling – some days ok, some days abject despair… you’re not alone. Someone nearby, someone you know… is feeling the same way.
Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to them. They’ll be happy to hear from you, and happy to share with you the same things you’re feeling. These are the people with whom one day you’ll be sitting in a crowded restaurant, laughing and rolling your eyes, and every sentence will begin with, “Remember when…” or “Remember how…”
Hang in there. We’ll get there.
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