My Life in LA County During COVID-19: May 12

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

We will endure. We will prevail. We shall overcome.

May 12, 2020 at 6:48 AM. I am in the twilight zone of feelings. I have to get on with my life, but I see the heartbreak of over 80,000 deaths everywhere. I am sad. I must be upbeat about the future, but I know full well that we will exceed 100,000 deaths in two or three weeks. How can we live productive lives under this cloud? At one moment, I detest myself for choosing to work as I normally do. The next moment, I feel deep sadness. I must cheer up somehow.

We are still having our groceries delivered by people who are poorer than I and who are risking their health and even lives so that my wife and I can eat. They are probably reluctant heroes who must work to feed their families. Yet, they could find food banks and other means to survive. I am glad that they are doing this and hope that they are taking every precaution along with the store that employs them. 

My saving grace is my work because it is not just work. Twenty years ago, after a lifetime of working for others, my wife and I chose to take a huge risk and do our own thing. The goal we set for ourselves back then was to help students learn better thinking skills through science. We combined our skills. I am a scientist, educator, and software engineer — all professionally. My wife’s professions include software engineer (a really good one), lawyer (mostly contracts), and taxes (masters degree in taxation).

We had the idea, formed after weeks on library research on science education, that students could learn science properly online if they could do real experiments and make their own measurements entirely remotely. So it is that I rise each day mostly confident that I will do something for our country and the world today. My work allows me to push aside the sadness for a while until I read a newspaper online or watch the evening news. Then, I experience fear as well as sadness.

I wish I had a wonderful message to send to everyone today. Instead, I can only tell you all to find meaning in your life today.

Gear up! We are in for a long slog. Too few have had the virus so far to see an end to it. At the same time, too many have suffered and even died from it. Until we have widespread testing, a treatment to prevent most deaths, and a viable vaccine, we will not escape from this dungeon of disease, this tower of torment. Our federal government truly dropped the ball and has yet to act properly to solve these problems. The result has been depression and protests from every direction.

I wish I had a wonderful message to send to everyone today. Instead, I can only tell you all to find meaning in your life today. Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs. These will not solve your problems. Instead, find a way to be a part of the solution. In my case, it’s a long-term and indirect part. Anything that helps you to wake up to a renewed sense of purpose counts. And, please do not base your future on anger, hate, distrust, or other negative emotions. Those will ruin any sense of purpose you may find. Funnel your feelings into constructive endeavors.

I do have one regret. I wish that I were younger so that I had more stamina. I used to be able to work 12-hour days. Now, eight hours is hard enough if I am seriously engaged. There’s so much to do. I fear that I won’t do enough. I also fear that my wife or I will catch this dreaded virus and may die. I cannot face up to this possibility and live in a constant state of denial, a sort of paper hopefulness. Still, it’s better than succumbing. We will endure. We will prevail. We shall overcome.

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