Distancing Doesn’t Mean Disappear

The plea from an anonymous neighbor on our online community chat board was clear: “Please, just come out onto your porches. Distancing doesn’t mean disappearing.”

With necessity being the mother of invention, people around the world have devised a host of creative solutions to combat our current crisis of communication. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed opera belting on the balconies of Italy, spontaneous expressions of appreciation and support from neighbors as doctors and nurses prepare for yet another day witnessing visions of Hell only Dante could have conceived, and conversations with loved ones impeded by plexiglass.

There is a charm to witnessing human beings muster the creative stamina and concentration to not only pass the time, but to attempt to make the slog of the days more manageable. Although, we would probably survive — thrive even — without the tone-deaf (both literal and metaphorical) celebrity karaoke. But hey, they tried, and deserved the tepid round of applause that followed.

And the symphonic echoes of noise pollution that those who inhabit a concrete jungle have grown accustomed to — and tolerated — have been even more glaring and upsetting in their absence. Some may even, dare I say, miss the sleepwalking sounds of city nightlife that have kept rest and relaxation at bay on numerous occasions.

I, for one, have been making real use of Youtube’s “background coffee house noise” catalog. Nothing punctures the anxiety-ridden silence that this virus has brought like ambient sounds of tableware maneuvers and undiscernible café chit-chat. Although, I do miss the intermittent moments of eavesdropping on your fellow patrons that justify procrastination.

And, in what I think is a major indictment of the culture we currently find ourselves, those who are willing and able to work — essential or not — are doing so, while others attempt to lay at the altar of forced productivity until its bears even the most putrid of fruit.

Writers are banging their heads to the walls, hoping for the torture to give birth to the next King Lear, while health-conscious fathers try to concoct an at-home workout routine that includes deadlifting a 10-year-old in Finding Nemo pajamas.

We are yearning to return to a world we won’t even recognize when it arrives — and as quickly as possible, if you don’t mind.

There will be an ample amount of time to assess the damage and take stock. Plenty of time to brush the dust off our dictionary of social cues and fill the linguistic gaps that accompany a prolonged period of solitude. But until then, the bread crumbs of humanity will have to be enough. So please, just sit on your porch for an hour. Don’t disappear.

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