"We have met the enemy, and she is the blackfly. She is a mindless, merciless eating machine, and what she wants to eat is you. What she lacks in physical heft is more than offset by her numbers. She and her sisters — for the biters are all female — attack in ferocious, ruthless, maddening swarms. They will turn you into a bloody, itchy, swollen mess if they don’t drive you crazy first. It is not enough to meet your enemy. You must also know her. Know her, and you might stand a chance. "
The Blackfly Survival Guide, Virginia M. Wright. Illustrated by Dean MacAdam, May 2012
The Omicron Covid threat may not seem as dangerous as the Delta version, but it sure has become more pervasive. Half the news and three quarters of any group discussion these days centers on what we know about the virus, and who we know has tested positive, how sick they were, how they got it, and what about how safe it is to even leave the house. While also acknowledging its danger, I have decided we are more threatened by the virus's “peskiness" these days than we are mortally threatened. I think of my days fighting off the black flies in Maine. They might not kill you, but they sure make your life pretty miserable, and it is usually preferable just to stay inside and away from the pesky little devils (especially when the mosquitos also get in the act!)
Given the larger range of threats to our health and safety, Omicron can be considered relatively benign. But on top of all our other concerns these days it is understandable the virus causes our hearts, minds and souls to be off center and on the defensive. So old Omicron is there harassing us with questions about school or travel, preoccupations with vaccinations, masking (for ourselves and others), and a constant wariness of everyone we encounter in the supermarket isle or in any public situation.
So what practical, strategic and spiritual versions of the equivalent of Omicron “insect repellent” are you employing to stave off all this buggy peskiness? I understand a lot of people have resorted to - among many others - jig saw puzzles, watching videos, or cleaning out the garage and finally doing that house remodeling or painting job you have resisted for years. The more daring have adopted a new puppy or kitten. I have unfortunately become too often enticed with watching even the least bit intriguing YouTube program that then becomes an entree into watching several other related topics and soon an hour or so slips by. And, yes, on the positive side, I spend more time with Cathy in after-dinner conversation; I am fortunate to attend family, friends, and Quaker Zoom cast conversations several times a week; and I just try to laugh and play more. I also really try to do some virtuous stretching and exercises each day when guilt forces me to.
Any of these antidotes to the pesky Omicron bugs certainly help. But they do not adequately satisfy our often lonely souls. As I have become more and more aware of a sense of need and loss from the disruptions and deprivations of Covid, I also have been trying to spend more time in solitude and “weightier” reflection. In addition to a morning meditation, I have enjoyed just sitting in the quiet of a predawn sunrise, or kicking back for a few minutes to enjoy watching the incredible athleticism of the birds at our feeders. "What is life really about," I dare to ask. Maybe I am not only capturing a Covid-gifted moment, I may also be storing up spiritual depth that will continue to serve me when life becomes more “normal.”
Getting back to the peskiness of black flies...there was always the assurance that there was a limited “black fly season," and eventually I would no longer be aware of last month’s pestilence. May it be so with Omicron. And may we be able to maintain a perspective today that reminds us that all those pesky frustrated plans and disappointments due to Covid, although annoying and worrisome, yes, they will pass and, over time, will probably also be largely become an intriguing memory in the larger flow of our lives.