That seems to be the question I hear in just about every conversation I’ve had, either in person or on line or even as a salutation in an e-mail. It’s usually a throw-away line, asked out of habit, and the reply is usually just as casual: “Fine,” “Okay,” “Good, and you.” But now we pay attention when we ask and we listen for the answer. We used to joke about asking someone how they are and dread it when they would actually tell us.
This crisis has made us think about both our physical and emotional well-being. We are creatures of habit and changes in routines, even if they’re voluntary, are disruptive and stressful. Now that we’re hearing the depths and breadth of this crisis: extending the restrictions on social interaction to May 1, the stark prediction of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, and it coming home to nearly everyone with the loss of a job, the distance of friends and family, the concern for our own well-being is becoming a driving force in our lives.
We deal with this in our own way. I have work to do here at home, and I’m doing it. I have friends to talk with about things like playwriting and car clubs over Zoom (and being sure to wear more than just a t-shirt). I found my thermometer and take it three times a day (I’m literally cool; it averages 98.3 F). I do my best to keep the humor quotient up. I’ve been writing plays, including the next chapter in the “All Together” series. I’ve discovered things on TV that have nothing to do with news — Netflix is a treasure trove (“Cheers” is timeless) — and the simple pleasure of a good book or crossword puzzle is as much a stress-reliever as a good massage or a stiff drink.
One of the memes on Facebook has been to post pictures of landscapes without people in them: no selfies, just beauty. I’ve been doing that, and one I put up yesterday was of the beach on Montserrat, the little island in the Caribbean where Allen and I went twice in the 1990’s. It also has a part in the novel “Bobby Cramer” where it plays the role of St. Edmund.
I hope you are well. I wish I could tell you that it will all be over soon. And I hope that the next time someone asks you how you are, you will truly to be able to say “Good, and you?”