In the Fog

One morning in the not-so-distant past, I went for a run. A thick blanket of fog hung in the air, obscuring all but the few yards directly in front of me.

I ran a familiar course, fixing my gaze ahead for any oncoming cars. Every so often, I’d make out another shape in the mist, another kindred spirit out for a socially distant stroll. I’d wave at the person across the abyss, feeling a solidarity in our shared activity. Together, but apart.

Slogging through the pandemic is like running through a foggy day with no sunshine in sight. What will summer look like? Will kids return to their classrooms in the fall?

Human beings aren’t really wired to cope with uncertainty for long stretches of time, and yet there is no certainty to be had at the moment. Instead, what we have are theories, observations, and speculation — each more alarming and bewildering than the last. It’s like Elsa’s Into the Unknown has become the soundtrack for our new reality.

Like the fog, the novel coronavirus has thrown a shroud over the world we once knew, making us wonder if that version of reality was only a dream. What was it like to hug our friends, eat in a crowded restaurant, travel freely? Those memories are fading, dwarfed by the emerging hallmarks of our strange new existence: virtual classrooms on Zoom, masked strangers in grocery stores, playgrounds barricaded by caution tape. (Yesterday on a drive, my kids and I wondered aloud whether the slides and swings were lonely.)

Even the thickest fog dissipates eventually as it’s heated into oblivion by the rising sun. One day, too, this pandemic will end. But until then, we have to keep navigating a path we can’t see clearly. For now, we can only imagine what the world will look like when the fog lifts — and try in the meantime to make it better.

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