The Past is Always Tense, The Future Perfect



I have been very fortunate during the Covid 19 crisis.

I know don’t jinx things and it is a little like the guy who jumped from the Empire State Building and as he was passing the 50th floor someone yells how is it going and the falling man screams back “So far so good.”

So let me re-state, my opening sentence. I have been very lucky during the Covid 19 crisis. So far.

Before this crisis even got started, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Macau. A trip that is impossible to take now or for the foreseeable future.

I have been able to visit my oldest and best friend who is desperately ill in North Carolina. He is not expected to survive until the travel bans are lifted and being able to spend some quality time with him before everything shut down is a blessing that I will always be grateful for.

When my wife was unable to travel to the United States as planned in early March, I was lucky enough to have the time and the means to be able to come to Brazil to be with her. Shortly after I arrived in Brazil the excrement hit the rotating blades and travel between the two countries ground to a stop. Had I not been able to come when I did, we both would have frozen in place without each other. While Skype and Zoom are helpful, hugs and midnight squeezes are far better when the heebee jeebees over Covid 19 hit. Her presence gives me strength and I hope I do the same for her.

We are well equipped to whether the onslaught of the pandemic. While no one can really ensure that they remain healthy during this time we can do more than most to stay healthy. We are surrounded by 2 sets of walls that allow us to practice social distancing easily. We have lots of soap. We have ways of getting food and groceries with a minimum of contact from the outside world. Should we get sick we have access to high quality health care not only here in Brazil but from the USA as well.

We live comfortably in a lovely home within a lovely community where everyday I find something new to marvel at. Our house is large enough so we don’t bang into each other constantly but not so big that we must go looking for each other. We have wifi that allows us to keep in contact with the outside world and as importantly download books, stream videos and the like that provide distraction during the tedium of self-isolation.
We have the means, at least for now, of surviving the financial crisis that the pandemic has created.

As I stated at the outset. I have been very fortunate so far.

My good fortune (so far) has allowed me time to ponder and think about the future. A sort of late middle age “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I have enjoyed my career in publishing and advertising. Not only has it put bread on the table but allowed me to experience the world in a way I don’t think that I could have fully imagined when I graduated from college. It has also allowed me to meet some of the finest people I know. But the advertising business, especially the internet side of that industry, is ageist where silver backs like me are more likely to be relegated to the scrap heap than prized for our experience and skillsets. But as my industry has shut down for the duration, and I have time to think, considering what I want to do with the next phase of my life seems to be a good idea.

Pondering what comes next has an additional benefit beyond just mapping a new course. It allows you to block the dark thoughts when they come. What if I get sick? What if Elaine gets sick? What if President Trump/Bolsonaro says/does something stupid again (likely). Is Rosie all right? Did I wash my hands enough today? Do I have enough water, TP, food, Ben&Jerry’s? When can Elaine and I make it back to the United States? What about Naomi (dated television reference)

All those things that go bump in the night can be replaced with what is next for me and for us. Don’t get me wrong those answers are not easy to come by. In fact, speaking personally, they can be excruciatingly difficult. But like all good problems that require significant brain sweat to solve, they also act like a balm that drives away the negative and allows us to embrace the positive.

Being able to think and contemplate the future is the greatest good fortune of all.
As Zadie Smith said “The past is always tense, the future perfect.”

About 34orion

Winston Churchill once said that if you were not a liberal when you were young you had no heart, and if you were not a conservative when you were older then you had no brain. I know I have both so what does that make me?
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