Looking Back at the Lockdowns
Empty streets, abandoned dreams, and common sense on hiatus
I ran throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the other Burroughs almost every day of the COVID pandemic lockdowns.
The invigorating daily exercise kept me fit and sane as I burned through 600+ miles, three pairs of Brooks running shoes, and hundreds of hours of earbud podcasts and Death Metal music.
The abandoned cityscape was surreal then, and seems utterly otherworldy in retrospect. For miles I was literally the only human visible, all of New York City transformed into a gigantic movie set hours before the actors and gaffers arrive.
Sure, we were in the midst of a pandemic killing 2,000+ people in the city per day. But I couldn’t believe then and am truly astonished now how everyone hid inside their homes or left the city entirely like roaches scurrying under shelves in a restaurant refrigerator when the door is opened and the lights turned on.
I understoood the concerns, even if the data was still incomplete and the actual risk while being outside in the open air was totally wrong. As you can see, I even wore an N95 mask the entire time, somehow adjusting to running half marathons with half the oxygen flow like some sort of weird sea level Mookie Sherpa.
As a species, we’re still instinctly designed to blindly follow the tribe, especially in times of crisis. Hardly different from herded sheep or flocking birds, we unconsciously fall into prescribed behavioral patterns that make sense at the tlme yet eventually feel embarrassingly absurd.
Reflection brings perspective, and if introspective enough we can’t help but erupt in a “WTF? AHA!” moment:
I mean, seriously, the sun was still shining, the skies were bright blue, the clouds stubbonrly puffy, and the Earth relentlessly spinning. The Universe would have laughed its ass off at millions of people cowering in their homes had it only bothered to give even a single flat fuck about any of us.
Of course it did not.
So we are left to our own illusions. If lucky, we can extract a lesson or two from this historic yet predictable experience, hopefully at least some insight:
Remember the pandemic and its lockdowns not as the time you couldn’t do all the things you wanted, but the months when you didn’t do the things you needed — and not because you couldn’t, but because you chose not to.