The media feasts on the calamity; sometimes with cause, but always opportunistically.
Most people I meet have simply had enough. Although most children quickly adapted unaware to new norms, adults simply accepted and soldiered on, mourning previous times and lifestyles, often forced to abandon longed-for social and travel plans.
Many seek out-of-town outings to mitigate the drudgery of restrictions. Some pick up stakes and make temporary, multi-week moves to less controlled areas where there is more solitude and less critical supervision.
For others, there are often regular daytrips, while many remain miserably stuck-in-time, sheltered-in-place.
There seems no ideal place to hide away, avoiding the impositions and controls. Domestic (US) sites are all subject to some level of social supervision and demands. International locations are mostly the same, many not wanting visits from outsiders. The EEC is aligning to resume travel with some 15 countries; US citizenry is so far specifically excluded.
There is a common theme, a repeated mantra spoken to address all issues, “Oh, it’s political. This wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t an election year.” Over and over the point appears.
But now it is not just Pandemic restrictions and requirements weighing on the soul, it is demonstrations, riots, deaths, killings, occupations, destruction, racial tensions, revisionism, crime-rate explosion, economic harms, national and international events and more.
Groups, Unions, Political Bodies, Celebrities and Organizations make demands for Funding, Defunding, Recognition, Support, Program Investment and all too often, FEALTY. Most factions appear headed for disappointment, to remain unsatiated and angry at days end.
With a laundry list of proven-questionable Town, City, County, State and Federal governance already on display across the country a truly mixed bag of results and on-going consequences can be expected.
There are countless domestic protagonists; many small tails demanding their right to wag a very big dog.
And all this is opportunistically driven by sides, fueled by callous sensationalistic media and those aggressively seeking personal gain by leveraging every single cut inflicted.
The citizenry suffers an unrelenting deluge. If you stay abreast of any news there is no escape nor respite. So, when do things normalize?
Its likely conflict will end when each faction receives what they must accept, or their position simply becomes untenable.
So, what will be the outcomes of these many issues? Hard to know exactly.
What is more certain is human nature. If you beat someone over the head with an issue long enough, they will submit or internally resist. Many of those that outwardly appear to appease or comply build resentment. When they can act invisibly (i.e. vote) you may not get the support you demand or expected.
And people do not like change.
I have been traveling: 3-4 weeks ago, to Northern California, locally around Santa Cruz and up to Alameda Counties and to North Dakota for 10 days over July 4th.
The travel itself tells a story. San Francisco, Denver airports are now far more deserted with few gates occupied and crowds only assimilating as boarding time approaches. Often there is nobody within 100yds as you proceed along vacant concourses towards your departure gate. Masks are required throughout the buildings and flights.
The only person I saw without a mask was a female Millennial strutting through Denver airport seemingly begging to be challenged and appearing loaded for bear. Nobody took the bait.
When I arrived in North Dakota there were a few greeters allowed behind security, and at the gate. This is unusual at any time. As travelers exited the companionways, they pulled off their masks, smiled, greeted any friends or relatives that had come and hurried off happily to Baggage Claim and Exits.
Time in North Dakota was filled with cheerful gatherings of relatives, meals out, fishing and spectacular firework displays celebrating July 4th. Social restrictions there are mostly limited to store workers wearing masks and cleaning trolleys for use by mostly unmasked customers. Nobody wears masks for indoor dining or walking outdoors.
Yet even there the media blitz wore on people. Many were tired and frustrated with confrontational news, national activities and political assertions.
Back in California the experience is quite mixed…
Local Santa Cruz County is more open. The last few weeks have seen visitors from Silicon Valley appear in slightly greater numbers. Restaurants have grabbed surrounding parking areas for seating, supplementing their restricted indoor space. Masks outdoors are uncommon.
The beaches are occupied; a little busier with mostly local people physically distanced and grateful to again be near the ocean. Outlawed fireworks were extensive along the beaches on July 4th; unprecedented and numerous displays, carefully policed from a distance I am told.
Shasta County up in Northern California was really opened-up when I visited 3-4 weeks ago for a few days fly fishing. The previous month I was also there and found depressed, take-out only activity in Mount Shasta town. But now the Hotels are booked and largely unmasked indoor dining has opened-up to smiling visitors escaping the Bay Area and points south.
A few local Shasta residents seem like they preferred the absence of travelers as the Summer wore on; shopkeepers, hoteliers and restauranteurs obviously feel very differently about their survival.
This weekend I was again back in Alameda County, CA. They always had more pandemic restrictions than where I live in Santa Cruz; even walkers and bike-riders wear masks outdoors. It seems their very recent opening (from about 2 weeks prior) for outdoor-only dining has been rescinded.
Last Friday CA State rolled-back restaurant outdoor eating in Alameda; they have returned to Take-Out only and continue their masks-everywhere culture. Foot traffic is diminished and the temporary sense of freedom has vanished with the reimposed restriction.
Everywhere I go it is obvious that public Happiness during this pandemic is inversely proportional to Control, Restrictions and the Weight of News.
In each location to which I travel I currently follow local conventions for social distancing, masking and dining. There’s little motivation to rock the boat when there are so many easily triggered and inherently upset individuals wandering around.
There are areas in San Francisco where extremely loud M-80 firework explosions are prevalent; these typically begin late afternoon and run till 3.00- 4.00am in the morning. The idea is to expose residents to the distress suffered by people who live in districts where gunfire occurs. These big bangs started a few weeks before July 4th and continue in many locations.
Residents can get no police attention to the matter. They say Police are unwilling or afraid to address the issue and face the possibly resulting consequences. Certainly, any veterans living in the area are likely suffering from the shock of the explosions.
I stayed a couple of nights in Alameda this last weekend. I believe the similar sporadic loud explosions (with no associated firework display) I could hear over the estuary in Oakland signal the same program is being deployed over a larger area, into the northern East Bay.
Its likely out-of-State firework sources will dry up shortly as July 4th supplies are eventually spent. Time will tell how committed and resourceful the protagonists remain.
Relatives in England are slowly emerging from quite severe pandemic restrictions. Where population density is high and public transportation is common (such as the UK), higher Coronavirus infections and death rates typically follow. Aging populations and underlying health complications make things that much worse.
I know too many people there that have been isolated (alone) in their sheltering, unable to visit with others and heavily restricted in their daily outdoor movements. Yet even as things ease, rules and conditions abound surrounding each newly re-instituted freedom. Only recently can even relatives visit one another and stay overnight.
Other parts of the world are newly falling into the abyss of COVID-19 infection. Numbers (as accurately as they are counted and reported) are spiraling in Brazil, South America, India and Russia with talk of a Second Pandemic Wave continuing ever-present.
And where I reside, I am perhaps particularly fortunate. People are outside and active. There are more happy faces than aggrieved; most seem to overcome the stress they unwittingly communicate and clearly feel.
We each must rise above the external influences that befall us; what other choice is there? And it appears to be a challenge that many must embrace.
Do you have a plan to lighten your load? Is there a way you can find to ease the burden placed upon your back? Are you and your loved ones finding systematic ways to overcome the stress of this pandemic era and all that has accompanied?
Best to give it some thought; actively making your outlook a little brighter is an essential element in maintaining good health in trying times.