By Khevin Barnes
Survival. It seems we are sometimes forced into it with an intensity greater than gravity. Our will to live and our reluctance to die seem like opposing drives, but many of us with an existing life-threating illness, like me, are familiar with those days when the division between those forces gets a little murkey.
A pandemic, such as this one we are experiencing, is obscured from view. In fact, we only have numbers by which to follow its path. And it’s this invisibility that has frightened so many people around the world. We have a murderer in our neighborhood, riding on peoples’ hands and faces, and waiting to bite like a shark. Nevertheless, on most days, at least when we are sequestered in the safety of our homes, it can feel like a sunny and safe walk on the beach — with a mask on.
I still see a lot of folks resisting wearing a mask in public places. But sooner or later we have to go out to buy groceries ,and the invisible threat becomes real once again. Not everyone I meet takes this threat seriously, but many are taking measures to avoid becoming hosts for this tiny, deadly, and unwanted intruder. Speaking of tiny, a single Corona virus is about 120 nanometers. You won’t see any of them lingering in the sink after using hand cleaner. A nanometer is a unit of length equal to one billionth of a meter.
How many people do you know personally who have this virus? There will be exceptions of course, but I don’t know a single person infected in Vail. I find myself taking solace in this while remaining vigilant.
The statistics are confusing, but it is unlikely that anyone reading this will contract the virus and die from it. As I mentioned earlier, those of us who are older or are immunocompromised should be cautious, but not necessarily worried.
Regardless of the actual science at work, that the predator circling in the waters of our lives can potentially strike any of us. The panic buying and hoarding is proof that we all feel susceptible.
Pandemics arethat way. It appears to have an objective to carry out, but viruses do not have a concious. The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear. Some may have evolved from plasmids (pieces of DNA that can move between cells), while others may have evolved from bacteria. Their only purpose is to replicate, and they do that by invading our own healthy cells. Viruses are the sharks in the water of our physical bodies. Their job is to expand, proliferate, and multiply.
We go to great lengths to find them and fish them out. But sometimes the quick ones slip through the net. Given that some of us are already hosting a life-threatening disease, the last thing we need or expect is for yet another disease or disorder to cloud the waters of recovery.
It’s a common myth that sharks must constantly swim to stay alive. I worked for a year performing science shows in Legoland’s Sea Life Aquarium, so I know this to be untrue. Maybe this applies to COVID-19 as well. When it’s on the move we take notice, but it can settle into hiding for a long time. And like the shark, it has the capacity to reawaken with a voracious appetite. This uncertainty keeps us vigilant, with one eye on the horizon.
The World Health Organization reports that around 80% of people will experience a relatively mild form of the Corona virus, which will not require specialist treatment in a hospital. And to put everything in perspective, last year mosquitoes killed 850,000 people on our planet, but the annual average remains around 2 million. Sharks, by contrast, killed 10.
We all long for a calm sea. Even though the occasional storm surprises us on our journey, my wish for all of us in Vail is to remain forever steady on our course with survival, unswerving in our expedition through Covid-19, and always available to the possibility of smooth sailing once again.