La Quarentena

My elderly family in northern Italy is on the edge. It could be curtains for them. I try not to dwell on it. In a twist of fate, the word quarantine has Italian roots – sailors used to wait forty days (“quaranta” is forty in Italian) before they could disembark.

So here we are, waiting it out in our individual ships, looking longingly at a disembodied shore. What is normal, again?

We, like everybody else, are trying to move through it all. Limiting our news diet. Staying active. Working quite a bit. But we are only one degree away from people already feeling the pain – so we feel it too.

It’s going to be bad. It is bad. We have to accept it’s going to be bad, to lessen the shock. This is only beginning, and if testing capacity expands, the numbers are going to climb. It is an inevitability.

In a parallel universe – specifically, in France, Macron delivered an outstanding speech. It is inspirational. I encourage you to read the full transcript. [I am cheating and that is the recommended “book” for this post.] My mother translated it for me out loud, and it was lovely. I have some portions of it poorly translated by Google below:

Let us demonstrate deep solidarity and a sense of responsibility. Each of us must at all costs limit the number of people with whom we are in contact each day. Scientists say it is the top priority. 

Read, and remember what is essential in life. I think that it is important in this moment we are living. Culture, education, meaning are important. 

We are at war, health war, of course: we are not fighting against an army or against another Nation. But the enemy is there, invisible, elusive, advancing. And that requires our general mobilization. 

We will get there, my dear compatriots, by being united. I ask you to be responsible all together and not to give in to any panic, to accept these constraints, to bear them, to explain them, to apply them to yourself, we will apply them all, there will not be a free pass, but, there too, do not give in, neither to panic, nor to disorder. We will win, but this period will have taught us a lot. Many certainties, convictions are being swept away, and will be called into question. Many things that we thought were impossible are happening. Let us not be overwhelmed. Let us act with strength but remember this: the day after, when we have won, it will not be a return to the day before. We will be stronger morally, we will have learned and we will have drawn learnings from the consequences, all the consequences. 

Let us rise individually and collectively to the height of the moment. 

The world will be different when arrive on shore. And if we are not also different, if we are not also changed by this existential experience, then we will have wasted the most tremendous crisis since the last world war.

I will add one more thing: We need humor. We can’t be miserable every single day. We need to honor those who have suffered or will suffer by making the most of every day, to the extent that we are able. To that effect, I offer a picture of my COVID19 shopping style. You’re welcome. Stay safe out there, send memes, and wash your hands.


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