How I’m Dealing With The Pandemic

That’s me in 1988 up a kukui tree in Kona. I still climb trees every day. Photo by Teddi Stranski.

When the virus first got in the news, I heard the phrase “two years” and (being me) I knew to latch onto that—so that I wouldn’t have a bunch of false hopes and disappointments. It’s my nature to immediately go, in my mind, to worst case scenarios. It’s my way of preserving my sanity.

Being gay and having lived through the devastation of AIDS, when almost all my very best friends died—I take viruses very seriously. My last on-site consultation was in Hilo on March 22 and I told the client that it was going to be my last on-site consultation until the pandemic was over. With Social Security, we’ll make it.

I’m actually managing just fine. I told Steve, my husband, that I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life for this sort of thing—what with my mindfulness & meditation practices, and my instinct to always have a huge food garden, and now having a loving friend in Steve.

Here I am today, thirty-two years later, up a schefflera tree that is leaning into Christmasberry trees. It’s super-easy to climb, but still great fun to be up in a tree. Photo by Steve Mann.

Steve said the isolation would probably eventually get to him, but I said it didn’t feel like isolation to me. We’ve got electricity, running water, phone, computer, a very nice, comparatively spacious home, three acres (of mostly woods) to wander around in (I climb trees every day), and massive numbers of books to read. Very often in my life, I’ve had almost none of those—just a shelter in the woods a mile down a trail from the nearest gravel road—and all alone. We don’t have poisonous snakes, tornadoes, chiggers, ticks, Lyme Disease, West Nile—we’ve got a lot to be grateful for. (We are, however, living on a very active volcano which is overdue and showing lots of signs of an impending eruption.) Having been a Zen monk, I pretty much don’t take anything for granted.

We spend our time gardening together and we’re blessed that our climate lets us do that year round. I asked Steve a couple of days ago if these were some of the happiest days of his life, and he immediately answered “Yes”.

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