It's not just you. Everyone I know is now on their last nerve with this blasted pandemic.
Just when we think that an ending may be in sight, it comes roaring back at us like a monster in a horror film.
I mean, it's Christmas. That used to be a time to gather and decompress. It used to be an opportunity to reset the internal clock. It used to mean travel and family and friends.
But now it means a plague almost out of the Bible, it means hiding in place and hoping that deadly virus passes by your door. It means limiting your social interactions to the people that you live with. It means dressing like the world has become toxic when you just want to run to the store because you're out of milk.
If you think all of this has been, or has finally just become, too hard, you have my sympathy because frankly it really has. Human beings are social creatures and Irish people are what I would call hyper-social creatures, we crave interaction and communication and a bit of craic. We love to gather and have the chats, because in Ireland, the smallest divisible unit is two, not one.
For a culture like ours that puts a unique premium on social interaction, being forced by a virus to isolate and hide is like a form of punishment in itself. Like a lot of Irish people, I have found that isolation particularly challenging recently. But what choice do we have though?
There are people in this country who have long ago decided that they are “over” the pandemic, although the pandemic itself is far from over. These are the same people for whom the daily privations of this tough era have proved unendurable, for whom the request to vaccinate and mask up has been an intolerable personal imposition.
These are the same people who have decided that it's not the pandemic that's a total drag, it's actually the people asking them to show basic consideration for others who really suck. In fact, how dare anyone try to deprive them of their god-given right to behave and act as though any of this is actually happening at all?
These selfish people have less tolerance for social responsibility. They act as if the least possible personal inconvenience is the grossest possible violation of their independence. They act as if their private rights take precedence over the public good.
Have you seen all these defiantly unmasked people on the trains and supermarkets now? Have you seen them, in the middle of this renewed Omicron surge, laugh and shout and congregate as if they are living in an alternate universe to the rest of us? Have you seen them berate anyone foolish enough to ask them to show a little consideration? We have to keep calling them out, though.
Living in the borough of New York that became an epicenter of the coronavirus, I was one of the people who caught the virus even before the pandemic was announced. I got very sick for a week and then in the second week, when I usually begin to rally, it got worse.
I thought it might be a bad flu and bronchitis. It was neither. A month after my recovery, I had my first and last scary experience of atrial fibrillation, a classic post-Covid marker I'm now told.
The coronavirus has a profoundly inflammatory effect on the body, it finds all of your health challenges and flips their on-switch. After lockdown in the summer of 2020, further weird post-Covid symptoms kept presenting themselves and they have kept me going in and out of the hospital for procedures and follow-ups ever since.
What I'm saying is, before Covid, I was basically healthy, but now I could open a little pharmacy with the amount of pill bottles on my nightstand. I'm on first-name basis with the staff of the X-Ray department.
So, what I'm saying is that no matter how hard the deprivations of this latest surge feel, Covid and its aftermath feel worse. I'm saying that for your own sake and the sake of others, just find some steel in your girdle to get through this latest surge as best you can.
“You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on,” wrote Samuel Beckett in The Unnameable. He was speaking of the human condition and the individual's resigned response.
It's not a Christmas sentiment, but it's the one I wish for you this Christmas. All crises eventually pass. This one will too. Stay safe until then.