Here’s to turning 39 in a pandemic

Today I turn 39. It’s not a milestone exactly but in a pandemic it causes a moment of reflection.

I will be celebrating it as normal as one can these days. I will be ordering out for dinner with the family. We’ll have cake. And I am receiving many well wishes from friends and extended family. I’ll admit these are practices that aren’t much different from previous years.

What is different though, is of course the looming crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t normal. Or perhaps it will be over time. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that for my 40th birthday we’ll still have COVID-19 and some modifications on our social interactions.

Perhaps I am more introspective in my old age now. Maybe it’s a side effect of more time indoors. The more I read the news I don’t see a path back to life before. COVID-19 is looking more and more to be one of those defining moments in world history where there was a period before and a period after.

I can’t and won’t predict what is going to come after COVID-19. I will however, express my optimism for humanity. As the classic Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi goes: “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.”

We’ve all lost something. Our connections to each other. In that loss though, I think we’ve gained something profound. A new found compassion for our neighbours and community. We social distance not for our sake but for those who are more susceptible to this pandemic. We do this on the promise that one day we will see each other again.

When the cards are down, we are a remarkable species. We build and adapt to challenges in unprecedented ways. There is no limit to our imagination and our ability to turn our imagination into reality. We will have to build a new way to live post-COVID-19. I for one hope that that new world is a little bit more equitable, a little bit more innovative and a little bit more compassionate.

Tonight I will be having a video chat with friends to celebrate my 39th. We will have drinks and share laughs. I will raise a glass of whiskey to us all and to an unknown future. We’re going to make it.

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