The imposition of self-quarantine can do strange things to the brain. Like bringing on really bad dreams after spending one’s waking hours thinking about the very real implications of what’s going on, beyond the ineptitude of one man who is out of his depth and apparently determined to take us all down with him as he sinks ever deeper into oblivion. Not that that’s not bad enough, in and of itself.
The hardest part may be the helplessness, the feeling that there’s no way out, like seeing a train wreck coming with no way to stop it. Sort of. We had our chance, didn’t we? But Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans in the Senate, pretended everything was alright and took a pass. So here we all are. Waiting for the train to come and hoping it passes us by. Hoping we’re among the lucky ones with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Not the loud barking, dry cough, that could spell out death. If not now, then maybe during a possible resurgence in the Fall?
Horrible, isn’t it? Have you seen the pictures of hundreds of people returning to the beach in Florida, despite a mountain of evidence proving the one thing we can be certain that works against Covid-19 is people avoiding other people?
Just this morning I found myself thinking once again about the four horsemen, wondering if this is nature’s response to centuries of waste and ruin being heaped upon the planet by an unappreciative species, many of whom seem to believe that what’s here is ours to plunder with no consideration given to any possible payback, or just what form that payback might take. Just grab as much as you can with no regard for the consequences, leaving the mess for those who follow. Those who survive.
What matters more? The tens of thousands who need not die, or getting through this with a robust economy? Where should the focus be and who will be held accountable for repeated bad decisions? Death isn’t half as bad if you die while wealthy? Did you hear the latest? That Daffy Duck has just been appointed Secretary of Lunacy and is under consideration to replace Mike Pence as VP?
It’s probably that kind of thinking, the kind I can’t control, that’s brought back the dreams. Workplace dreams that haunt me even in retirement. Last night I was in a factory, like an aircraft hanger, but it wasn’t a factory at all, it was a radio station. I was new to the job and a co-worker was showing me the equipment just prior to my going on the air. Then he left, but there was no real equipment at all, just a pile of metal boxes and nuts and bolts and assorted metal bits instead of tape players or turntables. I pushed bolts into a metal box, but nothing happened. I slammed my fist down into the pile of junk with no result. No music. Nothing. Through it all, I kept talking, not wanting to surrender to a DJ’s worst fear of all, something we used to call “dead air,” meaning nothing was going out over the airwaves. I was alone, and helpless.
I had barely gotten through that one, which got me out of bed and sent me to the kitchen for a pill when another nightmare stuck. This time it was on the TV side, with me as a reporter, assigned to cover a Daryl Gates news conference back in L.A.. But my photographer couldn’t be found and when he was found he was mad as hell at me for disturbing his lunch, which included the biggest piece of cake I’ve ever seen one person attempt to eat. So, I was going though all kinds of anguish with this guy who was throwing a fit, trying to get him to pick up his camera and follow me to the news conference. When he finally consented, after endless pleading and prodding on my part, Gates, was a block away and on his way into a building. The other TV crews were packing up their gear and leaving. It was over. We had missed it and I had no story.
My quarantine partner, my wife, thinks it’s all about being helpless. Both the dreams were surely expressions of helplessness and why not? Why wouldn’t my subconscious be dealing with exactly that? Isn’t that where we are? Absolutely and totally helpless to do anything at all other than wait for November, hoping we’ll be able to put an end to this madness at the polls? And even then, what will our new normal be? A return to sanity or ongoing cries from a mad billionaire for his gun-carrying, science-denier followers to rise up in some unthinkable reenactment of the Civil War – as he takes the nation down with him in his last big bankruptcy, his final act of self-defeat?
And for this, he expects our gratitude. A fine madness, indeed.
While we wait this out, and unless somebody does something (25th Amendment?), this perpetual helplessness threatens to drive those among us who are still capable of cognition absolutely crazy.