by | Nov 30, 2022 | 0 comments

Covid made it’s way into our household recently. With one of the three of us stricken by the virus, we decided to try preventing any further spread. We co-ordinated movements, opened windows wide, donned masks.

This did not work as hoped. Within a week, we were all sick to varying degrees. Though we’re all recovering now, for a few days, every one of us was downed by the illness that’s been an understandable focal point these past few years.

One of my main symptoms was a considerable drop in energy. My get up and go simply vanished. Drained in this way, I sat near inert on the couch for several days, staring out the living room window. While doing this, I asked a number of questions about the efforts we’d made toward prevention. ‘Was it worth it?’ I found myself wondering.

From one perspective, it wasn’t. We all got sick anyways and where’s the worth in that? There are, however, other ways of looking at this experience.

Take masking, for instance. While I’ve been consistently covering up in big group situations since 2020, I’ve never had to wear one all day. Though this is a pretty simple gesture, it was not without its difficulties for me. The strap was too tight, for one thing, which gave rise to headaches. The dry-air breathing instigated some irritated coughing spells. My nose rubbed raw where the bridge pressed too hard against skin.

Certainly none of these were calamitous outcomes. But they were irritating; I really didn’t like the experience all that much. And while sitting listlessly on our couch through those several days of peak illness, this irritation coalesced into a sudden sensitivity toward those among us who have been wearing masks for years now.

There are a fair number of folks that come to mind from my own life experience. I’m thinking of dental and medical staff. I’m thinking of grocery store workers and retail clerks. My physiotherapist wears a mask each day. As does everyone else in her office. I know teachers who wear masks. I know community centre staff. I was in a pharmacy not long ago. One of the people behind the counter blurted out, ‘I sometimes hate this thing!’ when her glasses slid down the slippery material and tumbled to the floor.

All these and many more – both individuals and groups of individuals – have worked behind masks for quite some time now. Although some of these might not have any averse reaction to the experience, a fair number just might. And my little stretch of doing the same provided a glimpse into just what this could be like.

So back to that question: ‘Was it worth it?’ In spite of the fact that our preventative measures did not keep covid at bay to any notable extent, I believe this thread of contemplation suggests, ‘Yes.’ That little bit of alignment with the experience of others suggests it certainly was. To mind, at least, that momentary glimpse of empathy was definitely worthwhile.

– Neil


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