The light at the end of this tunnel isn't a train
“The stress of trying to avoid the stress of all this is worse than the stress I’m trying to avoid.”— Charlie
When it comes to homespun philosophizing, no one fertilizes a clam quite like my friend Charlie.
His pearl of wisdom about the shadows hanging over all of us this year would be funny if it also weren’t so true.
Then again, as they say, tragedy plus time equals comedy.
Sometimes, I wish “they” would keep their mouths shut.
There’s no polling data to back this up — and, frankly, who believes the validity of polls anymore? — but I would say that the number of our friends, neighbors and country(wo)men who have muttered to themselves that they “just can’t wait until all this is over” falls roughly at 103% ... give or take the standard margin of error.
We take deep breaths and mutter beneath them, therefore we are.
Meanwhile, the sad truth — and, frankly, who believes the validity of “truth” anymore? — is that even when “all this” does come to a conclusion, it’s unlikely to be “over.”
The election, the pandemic and the fire season stand watch like Cerberus between we who trudge dead-tired and our hopes of release from the stress of trying to avoid the stress.
Take the presidential campaign ... Please.
The current race for the White House began Nov. 9, 2016, and a mere 1,455 days later will come to climax Tuesday night.
Or, rather, an anti-climax — because there’s every indication that, barring divine intervention or wayward asteroid, the results will be challenged in the minds, hearts and courts of those who disagree with the results.
And even should the unexpected happen, and not peep or a tweet is heard, it will merely start the 1,463-day countdown until the 2024 election.
Why worry about the future? Because there’s so much more of it ahead of us; and, besides, worrying about the past not only won’t change it, although it will keep you up at night.
Or so I’m told.
Then there’s the present, and the gift that keeps on giving ... the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, the White House Office of Science (stop laughing) and Technology Policy released a statement claiming that one of the administration’s accomplishments was “ending the pandemic” — an announcement of staggering genius, considering this was the same week that saw a half-million new cases reported and a death toll surpassing 230,000.
Faced with the facts — and, frankly, who believes the validity of “facts” anymore? — the White House said that the statement from the Office of Science (I mean it, enough with the giggling) and Technology had been “poorly worded.”
Believe me, I know something that “poorly worded” when I write it ... umm, when I read it ... and what we have here was more than a failure to communicate.
Daily, weekly and monthly records have been set for Jackson County as schools can’t fully open, entertainment venues and store try to maintain protocols, and restaurants that have survived in part through outdoor dining wonder what will happen when colder, wetter weather settles in for the winter.
Which leads us to the final noggin of our three-headed monster, the aftermath of the devastating Almeda and South Obenchain fires that have left countless numbers of our family, friends and county(wo)men homeless and adrift in a sea of paperwork and red tape.
The flames have stopped, the smoke has dissipated and the rubble has started to be cleared — but the agita has grown and the future is as foggy as the morning inversion layers that soon will be delaying departures at the Medford airport.
The fires were a feeding-frenzy buffet for the national and regional media, which swooped in for heart-wrenching profiles and artistic photographs of the wreckage — only to helicopter out once they had “their” stories, setting smartphone reminders to check back a year from now to see how much, if anything, has changed.
We know better, of course.
The hard work has just begun. The rebuilding of homes and businesses, of hearts and minds, of community and neighborhoods ... the day-to-day restoration that doesn’t inspire photo-spreads in national magazines or three-minute in depth reports on national television.
The divisions created through our political social distancing, through the distrust of polls, truth, facts and science, work in opposition to what we need to get through the suffering.
It is tiring. It is frustrating. It is painful.
And it is all around us.
The stress of trying to avoid the stress of all this, as my friend Charlie said, is worse than the stress I’m trying to avoid.
The hope is that we remember, no matter how divided we are, that we’re all in this together.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org