Where Were You When?

Some big moments change your life in an instant. A marriage proposal or death of a loved one permanently imprints the memory. You also remember where you were and what you were doing when a big global or national tragedy changes the world landscape in an eye blink. Each person has a different angle on the collective memory of 911, President Kennedy’s assassination or Pearl Harbor but the event is a constant point of reference. People old enough will tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news of those events. Coronavirus is another type of major event, the kind that percolates until the collective consciousness recognizes the scope of the disaster. Everyone will have distinct memories of this pandemic but not from a fixed point of time. The indelible memory may be when someone you know tests positive. Or maybe when the NBA cancels the professional basketball season. Or maybe when you get laid off. Or maybe when you realize you are overly tired with a fever and dry cough. The Great Depression evolved as a tragedy in the same way. The stock market crash in the Fall of 1929 was a notable event like the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan but the enormity of the disaster unfolded little by little as individual families experienced the aftershocks on a personal level. The unpredictable is often so much clearer when viewed in hindsight. When you are in the middle of a pandemic, you have no time to worry about the looming climate change disaster.

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