On Surrender

It’s been over two long years since I first wrote about the pandemic, and it’s starting to be clear that it will never be over.

I think we all harbored a belief that one day we would wake up and everyone would be vaccinated and boosted, and the virus would slink away into a corner and never be heard from again. It’s abundantly clear that that isn’t going to happen. Instead, it feels like we face a perpetual bad flu season, one in which all choral singing will be masked, any large party risks a rash of people calling in sick, and we continue to swab at our nostrils and keep our fingers crossed.

I do the majority of the in-person shopping for our family and it’s always been masked. Until this weekend, when I got ready to head across the street to Wilson Farm, went to grab a mask as I went out the door… and stopped. And headed across the street without a mask.

Last summer when everyone was beginning to be double-vaccinated, going unmasked felt like a victory. This summer it feels more somber, like a surrender. Not that we are lying prostrate on the ground under the foot of the virus, but more that we now must acknowledge that we are not going to defeat this thing. We must instead learn to live with it.

In some ways this kind of surrender to the inevitable is painful, but in other ways it’s freeing. The mental tax of constant vigilance is high. It can feel better to let it go and stop worrying even though there is still risk.

But I struggle with it. Because it feels like giving up.

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