Plan: Derived from the noun Plan in Old French meaning diagram or drawing as for a garden or building. That was likely derived from the Latin adjective Planus meaning a flat, even plane.
Most of the time we are consciously or unconsciously busy making plans. What am I doing today? What am I wearing? What am I eating? Who am I interacting with? What am I doing on the weekend? We have impulses, desires, and thoughts, and then take step by step actions to bring our plans to fruition. We start with an even plane and build on top of that.
We are not used to considering that even the simplest of our plans now must be seen as a potential life or death issue. What we used to do has become interwoven with a new reality of the silent, invisible, and potentially deadly virus that is wreaking havoc on our lives. Where we got our food, where we used to buy our shoes, who cares for our children, who we used to hang out and work with, and how and where we found our relaxation and pleasures have all been charged with being directly responsible to our own health and that of others. Our planning skills are being tested over and over as the small daily decisions we make may mean having to trust others or having them trust us in order to be safe.
My family made plans to be together for Thanksgiving and for my older daughter’s baby celebrating his first birthday (and our other birthdays past and present). It seemed very safe for us even coming from three different living spaces. The Care Center where I live is constantly monitored (I just got tested for Covid for the second time in a week) and is very well protected. My older daughter and her family have been hyper vigilant since the beginning of the pandemic and were planning to be in quarantine for 2 weeks prior to driving to pick up my younger daughter in New York State, who was also in quarantine for the event. The travelers had safe houses to stay in for the long drive, would bring their own food, and had safe rest stop measures. Massive planning was coordinated to ensure we would all be as safe as possible.
Although my older daughter is not teaching this semester at Oberlin College, she regularly went into their clinic to get tested for the virus anyway. To her shock, the test she took last week came back positive for Covid! She thought of all her precautions and wondered, how was this even possible? Added to the confusion was the fact she felt fine as did my son-in-law and the baby. She realized it likely happened more than a week ago during a socially distanced and masked connection with another mother when they let their babies interact as babies do. Probably that baby passed it to my grandson who then passed it on to my daughter. Neither family shows any symptoms ten days out from the likely exposure. That is the good news. Thank goodness she had the forethought to take the test.
But- there went The Plan. Like millions of others, we obviously scotched the gathering. We always had the caveat of “it may not work out if Ohio and New York state shut down because of increased cases” but we were thinking of that coming from the outside, not from within our own carefully vigilant ranks. Letting the plan dissolve was a disappointment to us (well, not to the baby). We likely may try to gather again this spring when my daughter is finished teaching the next semester, and the warmer weather means greater outdoor connectivity.
Teaching all Americans to take on the responsibility of life and death planning is a big step, one which millions have been actively discouraged and bullied from even considering. We must go back to a flat, even plane to construct a safe life from there. In order to grapple successfully with the real promise of vaccines and more accessible and accurate testing, our nation is being asked to grow up as soon as possible. It is already too late for hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens. Somehow, we must come together to make a new plan. May we teach and be taught.