The world within

Six months into the pandemic, where do we stand? In Canada, 9,000 are dead; in the U.S. it’s 170,000. Did anyone really think it would hit this hard and last this long? Worse, no one knows how much more is to come. A friend remarked recently that we will be dealing with Covid-19 for the rest of our lives. It was a jarring thought.

I worry about students returning to school. Too many will be taught virtually. Anybody who suffered through online lectures during the spring term knows that method doesn’t work very well. Moreover, there isn’t the same socializing with friends, no school teams or choirs or after class dance lessons, language or heritage study. Personal growth will be stunted as a result. Business also suffers with huge organizations operating from thousands of individual homes. Many staffers like it; their day is their own. But what about productivity or maintaining a corporate culture?

Hundreds of retailers and restaurants are already gone, never to return. Bankruptcies grow apace. Government debt will hobble the economy for years to come. The one positive spot is real estate. With five-year mortgage rates available in the range of 2.5 percent, there is housing for those who can afford it. But, for retirees who don’t want the excitement of the stock market, the other investment choices offer pathetically weak returns.

None of us sees as many friends as we once did. Families are reduced to fewer visits with furtive hugs. Those with relatives in the U.S. or abroad can’t get together even under such constraints. We won’t be going to New York this fall to see opera at the Met, as we usually do. Maybe we’ll never fly again.

But through all the miasma, there is a bright side. Let’s use this extra time to understand ourselves better. Most people used to have whirlwind existences and made no effort to look within, to see who they really are, and what they ought to be doing with their lives. So, ask yourself: What can I do to contribute? Who can I help? The most important pursuit should be self knowledge: just exactly who am I?

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