IDEAS: Winnie the Pooh can teach us a thing or two about the age of coronavirus

Local attorney and writer Merle Wilberding with his dog Gripper in January of 2019.
Local attorney and writer Merle Wilberding with his dog Gripper in January of 2019.

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest opinion column by community contributor Merle Wilberding appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Jan. 4.

With 2020 hindsight, I can see that my life, and I suspect your life, started full of promise in January.

December ended full of hope, but, oh my, the trials and tribulations of the time in between.

In mid-March, WHAM, our lives changed dramatically. We began to live virtual lives.

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The basketball seasons, including the 29-2 Dayton Flyers, were shut down; the baseball seasons were shut out; the curtains dropped on the Schuster, the Victoria, the Loft and other stages; many public and private meetings were canceled or severely curtailed.

Heck, we couldn’t even chat with friends at work anymore because we were all home – at least those of us who were lucky enough to be still working (remotely).

Our face-to-face meetings have been replaced by telephonic conference calls and visual meetings enabled by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Web-Ex and other technologies. For our protection and for the protection of those around us, we began wearing masks and keeping our social distance. This has slowly become a part of our lives.

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This brave new world has taken away so much of the social engagement and casual conversations that have always been a part of our lives.

As Alice lamented when she went down the Rabbit Hole, “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?”

In the same way, we ask ourselves, “What’s the use of laptops at home if we cannot kibbitz about the Reds around the water cooler?”

That gap in our lives illustrates the challenge we now face; we need to restore that part of our humanity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, some very mildly and, sadly, some mortally.

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On a national basis, 340,000 Americans have died as result of the virus.

In my own life, my 20-year-old granddaughter survived a very mild case. But I lost my brother-in-law and several personal friends to the pandemic.

The tragic consequences of COVID are painful, but I have also been buoyed by some of the positive consequences. The restrictions have brought many of us closer together, and for that I am grateful. We have found the joy of real conversations, and the joy of helping each other in small but meaningful ways, reflecting that in so many ways we are all in this together.

As Winnie the Pooh said, “So today is my new favorite day.” Pooh was right. We need to remember that every day is a precious day in which we can cherish our friends and family.

Merle Wilberding
Merle Wilberding

The pandemic gives us the opportunity to absorb and feel the many positive things in our lives. The Gipper, my red floppy-eared Dobermann, doesn’t know anything about the pandemic, except that for some reason he has more company during the day, and he likes that. The fish still swim on in the Miami River. Orv and Willa, the eagles at Carillon Park, don’t know that it’s been a bad year. They continue to amaze us with their personalities as they raised one family and are preparing to raise another. (I have especially enjoyed and learned so much from the Carillon Eagles Friend group on Facebook.) For the first time in centuries Jupiter and Saturn merged in the night sky. Nature continues to bless us with her beauty and promise.

So, with 2020 hindsight I can accept that it’s been a difficult year, and that we all still have difficult challenges ahead of us. But I am hopeful that the next year will bring us all good health and good times.

Dayton attorney Merle Wilberding is a community contributor. Community contributors are people who frequently submit fact-based guest columns.

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