I am stuck in DC maybe with Coronavirus. I am not afraid of Coronavirus — not one bit.
Funny thing. I met yesterday here at The Department of Health and Human Services. We met regarding how the organization I run should respond given our extensive national and international work, with children.
While I was sitting in the Hubert Humphrey building, taking notes, asking questions, developing a communication plan, I started to sniffle. A few minutes later, a dry cough. A few hours later, in my hotel room, my body temperature seemed a bit off.
Slept nine hours without waking-up once — rare for me. Had bad dreams, too. One was about our pet German Shepherd. We actually don’t own a German Shepherd, we own a Maltese/poodle mix. I used to raise German Shepherds. Anyway, people today want to call mutts fancy names these days, like Maltipoo. I don’t go for it; Luna is a mutt. Plus, maltypooh just kind of sounds off.
Back to the dream. The German Shepherd ran away. We searched and searched. We found him at a park. Some big bald hairy guy wearing overalls was holding her above his head, running toward me, then body slammed our dog to the ground and killed her.
So there was that.
I was to fly home at 5:14 this afternoon. I spoke to Gina for a while. I read and re-read CDC’s website. Please, if you are going to read anything about the Coronavirus, read this, even though some swear by wacky conspiracies from emails or random websites.
I decided to stay in DC for (at least) another day. Airlines are working with potential carriers of the virus, so the flight change was just fifty bucks.
I am not afraid of Coronavirus — not one bit.
But I couldn’t imagine being on a plane a spreading the virus to someone with a weak immune system. And seniors are more susceptible. As my friend Kristen Howerton just wrote, “TRY TO HAVE PITY ON THE MYRIAD OF OLD PEOPLE YOU COULD EXTERMINATE.”
In my room now. I have a beautiful view this trip. The cherry blossoms in DC captivate me. I took a photo of them on Sunday, during a run, and posted on Instagram. I took this photo with my Leica just now.
Outside, it’s in the mid-sixties. I have the patio door open. There’s a gentle breeze.
I’ve been away from home for 11 days.
It used to be that when I was stuck in a city I really couldn’t get any work done. You probably remember. Now with Slack and Zoom and email, there’s just about anything you can get done from a hotel room.
Bree attends Columbia Medical School. They just shut the school down, and she might come home for a few weeks, or longer.
Avery (my stepdaughter) is doing a semester in London, via Pepperdine University. All those are being sent home immediately.
If one decides to look at history, and the way most of the world lives — today — this anxiety of Coronavirus is indicative not of a health crisis. The anxiety is a symptom of a society addicted to data and certainty, and focused on pathology.
I’m not in any way saying we shouldn’t take precautions. We should read what the CDC says, and WHO, daily. Again, I’m staying in DC, as a precaution. I am instructing our staff and tens of thousands of our volunteers, around the world, to educate themselves.
But let’s get serious — hundreds of people in lines a mile long buying a year’s worth of toilet paper at Costo? I am not afraid of Coronavirus — not one bit.
There are so many kinds of anxiety. Or fear. One, of course, is death. Another is of being embarrassed, publicly. I wrote about that horror here.
I will close with a quote from a man who changed my life over ten years ago. I’m serious, he did. His name is Edwin Friedman. He was a Jewish rabbi who died in 1996. He was a counselor to corporations, presidents, families.
Consider his words. Let me say it again, in light of the Coronavirus crisis, consider Friedman’s words. And stay informed.
I will remain stuck in DC maybe with Coronavirus. And we will all be fine.
“Chronic anxiety is systemic; it is deeper and more embracing than community nervousness. Rather than something that resides within the psyche of each one, it is something that can envelop, if not actually connect, people. It is a regressive emotional process that is quite different from the more familiar, acute anxiety we experience over specific concerns. Its expression is not dependent on time or events, even though specific happenings could seem to trigger it, and it has a way of reinforcing its own momentum. Chronic anxiety might be compared to the volatile atmosphere of a room filled with gas fumes, where any sparking incident could set off a conflagration and where people would then blame the person who struck the match rather trying to disperse the fumes. The issues over which chronically anxious systems become concerned, therefore, are more likely to be the focus of their anxiety rather than its cause.”