March 20, 2020
Is the World Still Turning?
By Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.
To me, the world -- and certainly my world -- seems to have become still, like molecules at absolute zero (all right, I know that even then they still vibrate a little, but I’ll stick to my metaphor all the same). Seemingly, everything has ground to a halt and we all now live suspended in an indeterminate limbo of anxious uncertainty and not a little dread about the future. The world’s future and our own.
We here in California are now, all of us, living in a locked down situation. We can leave our houses if we must but otherwise we have been directed to stay home as much as possible and avoid contact with others. And last night, even worse news as our governor, Gavin Newsom, announced that he expects that 56% of Californians will become infected with the virus. Just what I needed to hear before tucking myself into the womb of my bed.
Predictably, I had a troubled night’s sleep and feel like crap today, but at least I’m not sick. Yet.
This morning, I got out my little calculator and did some figuring. Let’s see -- there are about 40 million of us in California, so if Newsom is right, we can expect about 22.4 million to get sick. If we assume a 3% percent death rate, that means, if I have calculated correctly, maybe some 67,200 of us will die of this disease. But since at age 84 and not in tiptop health I am in that vulnerable category, the odds that I may not make it are not exactly encouraging.
On the other hand, what’s so important about my petty life? I’ve lived long enough, anyway, and am only taking up room on this planet. What I really think about are younger people and children whose lives may suffer so much because of this virus or even die. How monstrously unfair! How absurd! It makes me think that the Gnostics were right, and that we are governed by a malevolent god, or more likely, live in a universe that is indifferent to our fate.
I’ve spent over half my life studying and writing about near-death experiences. So I am okay with death. In fact, last year I brought out a little book of humorous essays I entitled Waiting to Die. Hey, I may not have to wait much longer! This could be my chance! (Is humor still allowed during a pandemic? It had better be!)
But do I really expect to die? Well, yes, someday if I ever can manage to get around to it. But the thought of having to kick the bucket because of a stupid virus -- it’s just unacceptable! Also, demeaning. No one deserves to die because of a virus, even if many already have. See my comment above about absurdity.
The world will go on, even without some of us. It will keep turning no matter what. It won’t be the same after this, but children will play outside again and there will be the sounds of laughter and song. And have you noticed? It’s spring.