Musings on the Coronavirus, Part IV

1. The bad news is COVID is rampant. The good news is FOMO has been eradicated.

2. I may be alone on this one. OK, let me start with something universal: my greatest worry is when my loved ones are going to die. I don’t cry very often, but when I do, it’s usually imagining the deaths of those closest to me. Given the Circle of Life, I know it’s coming. My parents are in their 70s. We’re in the fourth quarter. When I opened up in therapy about this, I was ashamed to discover that some of this is selfish. How am I going to handle it? How will this affect me personally? Well, indulging that aspect of it, one part of loss is the loneliness you feel, that life goes on as normal for everyone else. To that end, then, while mass death would be terrible, maybe it wouldn’t hurt quite as much if we all lost somebody to the coronavirus. We’d be able to commiserate. I hope that’s received in the spirit in which it’s intended, because I don’t mean it mean. Am I tapping into something here or am I on my own? (Because the latter wouldn’t feed my loneliness or anything.) I’m just saying they’d all graduate together and have a big party in the afterlife as the Class of 2020.

3. There have been some solid parodies: Turning My Sharona into My Corona. Turning Havana into Corona. Could someone please do one of Glycerine and call it Quarantine? Oh, wait. They did. This is what happens when seven billion comedians fish from the same comedy pond.

4. So, what should we be doing?

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

During trying times, you go back to the basics. In a slightly less sophisticated quote: “Dance with the one that brung ya.” What does that mean? You got as far as you did for a reason. Keep doing what brought you here. It’s the time to tap into our humanity, our talents, our unique gifts. That’s why I’m writing. That’s why I partnered with Dayna Solomon to throw a virtual DJ dance party.

We did a Google Hangout and then both live-streamed it on Facebook. You could say we did a co-vid.

And that’s why I’m trying to be nice to our neighbors, the crazy bastards. One thing we learn over and over from so many of the great works throughout human history is that you can never give up. If you lose, you lose, but you go down fighting. According to Hinduism, we’re in the fourth stage (Kalyug, the last and worst one), but it still matters that you did your personal best. So be the strongest version of yourself. Be nice to others. At the grocery store, don’t cut people off and grab the last roll of toilet paper. This’ll all matter in the next life. And that way, you can know how dope you are. Which is what it’s really about. How dope you are.

5. In tennis, rain delays tend to help the player who’s losing. In a way, corona is a huge pause button. I’m thinking of all of the people who were about to launch a TV show, begin a new job, take a trip… and this really blows for them. On the other hand, all of those people who were about to be evicted, fired, or dumped… you get a break. I mean, unless the other person in the relationship is heartless, which is possible. It’ll be interesting — and by interesting I mean both inspiring and deflating — to see which problems the huge pause button improves and which it exacerbates. Will it widen the inequality gap? Divide us further? Will it be the great equalizer, like a gun or education? Will it bring us closer to the middle? Time will tell.

6. Big ups to our Californian Representative Katie Porter for this amazing exchange with the CDC chief, getting him to agree on national television to offer free testing to all Americans.

If any woman could’ve been perceived to be “too annoying” or “too over-the-top” or “too out of place” or “too disrespectful to a man” or “too shrill,” this would be the case. And the reaction I had? None of those things came to my mind. I almost teared up at her courage, her relentlessness, and her care for her fellow Americans. #NeverthelessShePersisted

This, folks, is what leadership looks like. And so all of you who kept claiming Liz Warren failed due only to sexism, you can take this moment to go F yourselves. Was that part of it? Sure. Was that the whole story? Not at all. People just didn’t like Liz Warren, which is probably why even the vast majority of women didn’t support her. My own wife found her irritating and said she couldn’t listen to her for four years. Warren may have had the best plans (I think she did) and been the most qualified (I think she was) but she made several boneheaded moves, not the least of which was claiming to be Native American when she wasn’t. That was offensive on its face. So, please stop playing the sexism card at every turn, because I just gave you an example of an aggressive woman who did her job in this crisis better than any man I’ve seen do it.

7. Corona may kill more men than women, as estrogen appears to act as an inhibitor. By getting curves, Caitlin Jenner was ahead of the curve. #FlattenTheCurve

8.For reasons unclear to all involved, as a kid, I used to sing this John Denver song about the state bordering the east side of Ohio…

“Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong…
West Virginia, mountain mama,
Take me home, country roads.”

West Virginia finally confirmed its first cases, meaning corona has reached all 50 states. It probably took W Va so long because it’s tough to tell the difference between coronavirus and black lung.

And there goes my chance ever to play the West Virginia Funny Bone. But I just had to… mine that one.

9.As the quote goes…

“You can be anything but not everything.”

I actually like this quote better:

“You can be everything. Just not everything at once.”

Whatever your thing is, this is the time to set goals for work, rest, and play.

A friend of mine was once laid out for a couple of months, almost 100% bedridden with an illness from which he’s fully recovered. How’d he spend his time? On the phone, wasting his days. His father remarked to me,

“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. But if I had eight weeks to myself, I would be reading books and catching up on classic films and taking a correspondence course. What a shame to wile away all of his time.”

I couldn’t agree more. The key here is balance. And how does one achieve balance? Structure. Till his death at the age of 98, my Grampa kept a strict schedule, probably owing to his decades in the Indian Army. He woke up at 4 AM, showered, prayed, ate, read the paper, etc. It’s not that any particular thing was all that amazing; it’s that he did it on a schedule. I left Corporate America 14 years ago and I thrive during days when I have nothing on the calendar. How do I do it? Creating blocks of time. Defining my days as:

Production in the Morning.

Marketing in the Afternoon.

Leisure/Performances in the Evening.

One of the worst feelings on the planet is restlessness. It’s such a weird sensation; it’s difficult to describe beyond the fact that you don’t feel like doing anything at all… not working, resting, or playing. Don’t let that happen to you. Start your own personal Year of the Hustle. Take your metrics now. Measure whatever you want to track: weight, number of steps, number of films you’ve seen, time you spend talking to your parents, whatever. This is your pre-corona baseline level. Decide which ones you want to increase or decrease. Have fun with it. Usually, that pesky job is in the way. You may never get a chance like this again to kickstart your life goals.

10. Seinfeld called itself “a show about nothing.”

This description turned out to be more prescient than initially assumed. That sitcom was a microcosm of its decade. I was in high school and college in the 1990s and remember being acutely aware of how little was transpiring in “my” decade vs. the ’80s, the ’70s, or the ’60s.

Besides the public debut of Internet, what was the most significant thing that happened? Certainly nothing on the scale of the United States’ Cold War victory via the collapse of communism, the Vietnam War, Moonshot, or the Civil Rights Movement. It almost felt like the End of History.

Contrast that with the 2000s. Holy crap. Two dreams and two nightmares:

  • First black President, and in fact, the first time in history that a person of color became the head of state of a majority-white nation.
  • Web 2.0 and all of the trappings of modernity that came with it.
  • 9/11, coupled with the Iraq War, Part II: This Time, It’s Personal.
  • Collapse of the global financial system.

The 2010s brought the election of Donald Trump, arguably more shocking than all of the above. And two months into the 2020s, we had a pandemic.

Gosh, I miss the ’90s. A decade about nothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Rajiv Satyal is a standup comic. He resides in Los Angeles.

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