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Distraction

I wrote last year that I felt that distraction was one of the great problems our generation, and society as a whole, are facing. I still hold to that, but sometimes distraction can be a good thing.

Reluctant as I am to write about COVID-19, it's affecting the whole world in major ways, so I suppose there is no way around it. Initially I was in the camp of folks that felt it was blown out of proportion, just an oversensitive reaction to a really bad flu. However, seeing what is happening in Europe, including the "total collapse" of hospitals and food systems, I slowly came to take it seriously. This week I went out for groceries for the first time in about ten days. It was strange, wearing gloves and a bandana over my face as I perused the aisles, stressfully avoiding people and only touching what I had to. It's a deviation from who I am and my normal treatment of others (as well as germs), but I was advised to do it, so I'm complying, for better or worse.

I decided to stay home after that and recenter myself for a few days (or weeks, perhaps). If feels safer, and probably is, though safety isn't really something I always ascribed myself to strictly -- I'm a skateboarder after all! Still, even in the relative safety of my home, there is this angst inside. We shouldn't leave. Even a walk around the neighborhood is harrowing. And what of all the groceries I bought, or the items being shipped here? Are we introducing harmful materials into our safe zone? From the advice of a friend and coworker, I sanitized everything I bought this week, washed my clothes immediately and took a shower. It's just so strange and paranoid, but some seed of caution (over-caution?) has planted itself in my mind and I can't seem to shake it.

Then last night the kids went to bed early, and Katie and I decided to watch a movie, which we rarely do. I love films, but sometimes you just don't want to commit to 90 minutes of screen time, especially after hours of Zoom calls every day. However, I found a ridiculous Tim Allen movie called Zoom (the irony is only now hitting me as I see that word twice in this paragraph) from 2006 that I had somehow missed (I'm a sucker for Tim Allen anything), and so we indulged.



It was great! Silly, funny, nonsensical, and featuring a very early-2000s soundtrack, mostly composed by Smashmouth. The best part: for an hour and a half, I forgot about everything that is going on in the world. I simply sat, watched and enjoyed. That's the magic of movies, isn't it? It helps us forget. I remember learning years ago that the film industry has always survived depressions and recessions, mostly because people always want to escape. I never thought of myself as such a person, but this pandemic finally has me in a camp that requires a break from reality.

After the movie I walked over to a window in our dining area, where we have a pretty good view of Palos Verdes. I love seeing the lights of houses on the hill that lifts out of the neighborhoods leading up to it, the misty clouds of the Pacific wafting off the shore and colliding with its lush green edges. Sometimes, particularly in the morning, I can even smell the salty sting of the ocean from these windows, as the sea breeze fills our house. But even this respite I enjoy several times a day now carries with it the heavy weight of an unknown and scary world that exists outside that window. None of us know what is ahead, though we are unique in history in that we have other countries a good week or two ahead of us. Unfortunately, the prognosis is that we haven't even seen the worst part yet.

For years I've been advocating that life is about balance, maybe more than anything else, and so this scenario we find ourselves in should be no different. We face dark realities ahead, but there are moments of light within, and we need to embrace both to exist healthily in these uncertain times. Some things that have been little windows of escape for me are a daily noon-time prayer meeting my church does (on Zoom, of course, if you'd like to join), good music (often worship music), and plenty of time outside in the yard, gardening and planning the halfpipe construction project I wish I had started before all the stores closed down (hindsight is 2020...something we may be saying a lot this year and next).

And of course, anything with Tim Allen in it.