In the background behind all of this is of course the boredom and the anxiety.
The more bored we get by not going out to do things, the more our thoughts turn to the reasons we can’t go out and the pandemic can become all consuming: it is sorrowful, it is exhausting, it is maddening, it is soul sucking.
I completely get why people are flipping their shit and planning to go out without masks and do all the things that they’d want to normally do – everyone has those same urges and desires right now, and the difference between those who are willing to follow guidelines and those who rage against them and ignore the problem seems to be centered around a battle between their own self-control and their willingness to care for others’ health.
There are many false stories circulating – that masks are dangerous and can cause suffocation, that COVID-19 is a conspiracy (financed by Bill Gates and/or China), that our numbers are only high because we are so good at testing, etc. The White House feeds into these conspiracies on a regular basis, people share these stories widely on social media, and the result is that they find excuses to indulge their risky behaviors.
So COVID-19 is still very much the leading determinate of the pace of much of daily life. I hope I never have to live through a pandemic again.
Being in the woods is one of the few places where I don’t think about the pandemic constantly, though it certainly enters my thoughts on occasion. I think that one thing I like about hikes is the constant need to focus on what you are doing for reasons of safety and navigation – it limits your ability to spend a lot of time focusing on all those same things you think about while sitting on a couch.