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Something we can’t see is helping us see what really matters
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

The world, as they say, has changed.

And that might just be a good thing.

Nature via a coronavirus — a term you likely never heard until recently — has turned the world upside done.

In a matter of days what we have taken for granted is no longer the case. Schools have closed. Sports have been sidelined. Fundraisers postponed. Easter egg hunts cancelled.

It seems at times the world has gone mad. Lines out of Costco stores such as in Turlock make Black Fridays of yesteryear look like slow sale days. People are clearing out shelves. Others seem to think it was morally OK to try and make money on what they saw as an impending quasi-panic and buy up crates of $2 bottles of hand sanitizer and then turn around and sell them for $70 a pop on the Internet until their partners in profiteering that got a cut — Amazon et al — pulled the plug.

Personally, I’m trying to wrap my head around the run on bottled water given what comes out of the tap is some of the safest on earth, is 1,000th the cost, and isn’t in danger of going dry. The same is true of the toilet paper buying frenzy as well as other items such as coffee and my favorite — Top Ramen. If your idea of surviving the apocalypse is feasting on Top Ramen you might want to ask yourself what you are surviving for.

If you were out and about in the past few days with everybody and their brother seemingly headed to any store that usually stocks toilet paper, everyone seems to be acting pleasantly toward each other often engaging in conversation with strangers. There were clearly exceptions including a hot-headed apparent racist who didn’t like fact the van in front of him in the Food-4-Less parking lot shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday had stopped to let somebody get in. Long story short after calling the guy who I assume was with his wife some choice racist names that weren’t close to his ethnicity and forgetting the hard cold fact the guy was an American just like him after going face to face and in doing so terrorizing a nearby girl, they went on their way.

Maybe it was just me but even drivers — except perhaps for the guy that drove through a stop sign earlier that day and cut in front of me when I was halfway across Woodward Avenue jogging in a crosswalk at Van Ryn Avenue — seemed to be even more courteous.

The coronavirus has made it clear that as smug as mankind might want to get, we ultimately don’t call the shots.

Perhaps that is why many of us seemed to be reflecting upon what we really have and what truly matters.

It is clear this isn’t going to be easy. People are going to be hurt financially. Some of us may likely lose our jobs. We may not be going on long-planned vacations, may be among those that won’t be collectively betting $1 billion on March Madness, or may see traditions such as our kids’ high school graduations ultimately postponed or cancelled.

But then again — depending upon our age — our parents, grandparents or great grandparents who dealt with things like the Great Depression, World War II, or even the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 when modern medicine was a shell of what it is today — would probably look at this as being about as stressful and threatening as a leisurely stroll through a park.

What is going on now may be the right measures to take or could be overreacting. Time will tell. The one thing we don’t want it to be is not enough.

Channeling Dr. Spock logic — the Star Trek character and not the baby doctor — the pandemic is nature’s way of thinning the proverbial herd or simply re-enforces the cold hard fact we’ve all got to die from something.

I’d venture to say that for most of us the likelihood of dying if we contract the coronavirus and get sick enough to seek medical care is not that great. A death rate even of 3.4 per 1,000 of coronavirus illnesses that are documented seems horribly high but it is also a survival rate of 96.6 percent.

What is really in play if you’re not a contagious disease expert or a government leader entrusted to make the hard calls is that we do not want to see others die whether they are loved ones or complete strangers if there are steps we can take to reduce the odds of that happening. That is even true among those who believe what is going on is a major overreacting.

As much as we might like to see the Sacramento Kings win one or two more games this season, Tiger Woods break Jack Nicklaus’ record for most pro golf tournament wins, high five Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or hit a buffet line at our favorite Las Vegas casino, it isn’t worth it if it significantly increases the risk of someone else dying.

The entire pandemic thing — even if we believe the precautions being taken are an overreaction and may have negative impacts on the lives of people that don’t get sick for years to come — likely has made you think at one point just how precious life is.

The biggest concern I had on Saturday wasn’t taking two hours to do my once a week shopping that usually takes 45 minutes tops or whether some event I counted on was cancelled or postponed. Instead it was making sure someone I love immensely who isn’t blessed with being as healthy as I am didn’t venture from the relative safety of her home to go shopping. After dropping off food purchases, I spent a good three hours just hanging out. It was better than the coolest hike I’ve been on, the longest bicycle trip I’ve ever taken, and certainly better than any column or story I’ve ever written.

That’s not to say I didn’t value our friendship, our past, or the three unique grandkids we brag to each other about when we’re not trying to deal with their struggles. The events of the last few days made you realize just how fleeting life can be and how too often we place value in things that are worthless in the overall scheme of life.

We dance on this earth for only a short time.

It’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realize we don’t control how long that the music lasts and therefore waste precious time until something jars us out of our self-absorbed world.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.