Every once in a while, Dave (being a retired preacher) feels the need to pontificate. After all, it's hard to go cold turkey. To scratch this itch, he has created High Tolerance--an e-letter touching on all things worldly (or whatever grabs his attention at the moment).
There is no set frequency to this publication, so you might get one each month or three in a week (although the latter is highly unlikely). When the spirit moves, Dave will shoot one of these literary masterpieces to you if you wish.
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It’s Okay to Smile (April 3, 2020)
I’ve avoided writing during this whole pandemic thing. It’s not that I haven’t been tempted. There are a thousand things that pop up every day and jolt my curiosity, my interest, or my ire. It’s the corona virus all day, every day. No one seems to talk of anything else—particularly the new folks. As piqued as I became about its various facets, I just didn’t feel like adding to the cacophony—until today.
I just came back from a run to do errands—mostly groceries. Despite the dangers out there, a guy’s gotta eat. So does his family. So there I was, keeping my six foot distance from everyone as best I could. To be honest, I’m far less worried about contracting the virus as I am about offending someone else’s sensibilities. Frankly, a lot of folks are freaking out.
If one enters a large arena such as Costco (my first stop), it’s difficult to avoid crossing into someone else’s space. That’s particularly true when there are no specific rules about which part of the aisle belongs to me and which part contains the right-of-way for my counterparts. More and more people are gaining a greater awareness of each other, but there are still a few self-absorbed shoppers who can’t grasp the concept of social distancing.
All that is to be expected, I guess. People are people, and we’re each trying to get used to living in the midst of a pandemic. We don’t have a lot of practice at that, and I hope our current experience is never repeated. If it ever is, at least we’ll all be seasoned veterans by then. For now, however, there’s one thing we need to nail down.
It’s something about which I never hear the talking heads speak. I’ve noticed that, with all the social distancing, most people never seem to look at each other. They’ll give you a sideways glance if they think you’re getting a tad too close. Otherwise, they seem to go out of their way to avoid eye contact.
Please allow me to point something out. COVID-19 is not contracted through the eyes from a distance of six feet. You are NOT going to catch the virus if you look at me. This malady is dehumanizing enough without my fellow Homo Sapiens ignoring me or (as we used to say) avoiding me like the plague.
That’s not the worst of it, however. I noticed that when people did bother to look in my direction, blank stares were the order of the day. I realize all this is stressful, but it’s okay to return a smile. I made it a point to smile at anyone who caught my eye. It seems to me that it’s the least we can do for each other—especially at a time like this.
I want to publicly thank each of you strangers who used the muscles of your mouth to grant me a smile. Each one was deeply appreciated. Each one made me feel more human during a time when we are feeling less and less human with each passing day.
A grin is not a commitment. It’s not a political statement. It’s not even, necessarily, a gesture of friendship. It’s an acknowledgement that you recognize my worth as one of your own species. It’s okay to turn the corners of your mouths up and show your teeth, folks. It’s called a smile, and I’ll take all of them that I can get. I’m guessing there are a few others out there who feel the same.