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If someone had told me a few months ago that I would experience a global pandemic that could threaten my existence and the well being of those I love, I would have said, no way. If I’d been told that 22 million people in the U.S. would lose their livlihoods too, I would have been sure it was alarmist rhetoric. If someone had told me that every image of main thoroughfares across the globe would be devoid of automobiles and most people, that airport runways would be clogged with parked airplanes, that most scheduled events that required people coming together would be canceled, schools would be closed, etc. etc., I would have had trouble imagining it. The uncertain date of the conclusion for this pandemic or cure for it is not clear or known. Life as we knew it, could largely disappear. How much will return to “normal” seems up for discussion. Photos of groups of wild animals entering towns as if conquering armies, make it clear that nature is largely indifferent to human suffering.

There have been many illusions shattered because of covid. Among them was a belief that certain things in life were immutable. Covid has been shouting at us, Life is fragile! Don’t count on it. Tomorrow may be nothing like today. Don’t count on it. Life can change in an instant.

As a Jew, I have always wondered how the European Jews managed to live with the constant threats of destruction during the holocaust. I now have my answer. Day to day. Hour to hour. Minute to minute. With anxiety. With sadness. With constant threat of loss. With great relief when the threat of an immediate danger has passed.

I’ve stayed sheltered about 95% of the covid time, except for almost daily walks near the ocean, which are always pleasing and somehow reassuring. In the early days of the pandemic, I’d find myself imagining myself a patient in ICU, wondering how I’d cope. I have a friend my age whose son is a physician. He’s told her, Mom if you get sick, there’ll be nothing I can do for you.

I reluctantly began to think that realistically, I’m probably not that far away from a date with death anyway. It’s hardly like I have my whole life in front of me. Maybe it wouldn’t be that much of a tragedy. But it sure wouldn’t be any fun!

I don’t like the thought of dealing with this virus repeatedly, as they are now telling us; resurgence in fall and winter. Oh! I have no control!?

All in all, I have nothing to complain about during this shutdown. I’ve been lucky. I did have to cancel an annual visit to Kyoto which I look forward to all year. Big deal. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to go next year. However, the illusion that I could keep going there for many years to come has now been destroyed as well. Each year I get to go will be a gift.There’s only now, now and and noW!

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.