There was extensive focus last week on the anniversary of the day when America officially shut down because of the Coronavirus. There has been much appropriate coverage of the COVID stresses that have built on our people over the last year: on those infected by or taken from us by the virus, and on those that have attended or grieve for them; on healthcare and frontline workers; on the health and emotional challenges faced by large families living in cramped quarters; on parents trying to work from home while ensuring that their children maintain their studies; and on the terrified, looking at their four walls after being laid off. These have borne the brunt of the pandemic and the attendant enforced isolation.
As all who care are aware, President Biden recently declared that during May, there will be sufficient COVID vaccine for all adult Americans who want one. I can’t believe that someone who has been as adept at setting COVID expectations as the President would make such a statement if he wasn’t very confident that he could meet it. This presumably means that all adult Americans seeking to be “fully vaccinated” can achieve the condition within July. Our need for enforced separation is apparently coming to an end.
I tend to agree with those commentators that have suggested that it will be difficult for the Administration to maintain the cautious line it is currently taking – to the effect that in the summer when all Americans desiring a vaccination will have already had one, it will then be appropriate for limited gatherings. I expect that the sentiment among the majority of those that get vaccinated will be that those who choose not to be vaccinated had best take care of themselves, and that it will be time to break out — to start “getting back to normal.” That said, I suspect that there may be a wide variance as to how we each individually emerge from our cocoons. Some of us have appeared to handle seclusion better than others. While having a reserved disposition has outwardly provided a healthy coping mechanism throughout the crisis, I would suggest – being cognizant that there are learned psychologists that read these pages, and so tread lightly — that while there has been extensive reporting on the deleterious effect that enforced isolation has had on those commonly considered “extroverts,” those commonly thought of as “introverts” may now be facing a different, but perhaps nonetheless trying, virus-caused transition. Emotional as well as physical muscles need exertion. Too much isolation for too long might have become too cozy, might have arguably bred in some a disinclination to socialize that could, unaddressed, seemingly become detrimental.
The other night, we watched one of our favorite films, Shawshank Redemption, which, as virtually all are aware, sets forth events involving prisoners in the fictional Maine Shawshank State Prison. Toward the end of the film, Morgan Freeman’s character, Red Redding, remarks, “These walls are funny. First you hate ‘em. Then you get used to ‘em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on ‘em. That’s institutionalized.”
It would seem that merely getting used to COVID-induced walls, at least for the period we have had to abide thus far, wasn’t bad; that said, the fictional Redding’s observation resonates. I would submit that this summer, it will be beneficial for those of every personality inclination to actively “break out” — while paying appropriate heed to then-current CDC COVID safety protocols, of course :).