Thomas Slatin

With the societal changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have started to realize what is most important, but perhaps most importantly, I have made note of how this pandemic has changed me personally, and in almost concurrent fashion, I make the changes that I need.

It has been a difficult and trying time during the pandemic. I thought about keeping a daily journal simply to document the spread, though quickly abandoned the idea as there is an enormous amount of press coverage already, and outside of the daily news updates, every single day seems identical to the one before. These days are seemingly unprecedented, historic perhaps, and unlike anything my generation has ever experienced, and during my lifetime hopefully it will be something that I will not have to face again.

The quarantine, which resulted from a complete failure on the part of the current governmental administration has left many people unemployed, and desperate, and has hospitalized and killed countless more.

The Trump administration was a failure from the beginning, garnering much controversy and media attention, but now the pandemic has lead to dire levels and the ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s antics are no longer entertaining or humorous.

I have been staying home as much as possible, leaving only to take long walks in the forest, to purchase food, from the grocery store, or to take pictures which document the effects of the pandemic.

These unprecedented and critical times have given me a lot of time to think and to prioritize the things that truly matter, and these are my relationship with Angie, my work, my friends, and my family. I have come to realize just how much I have going for me, and how fortunate I am, and most importantly, how I should never, ever take any of this for granted.

This crisis, it seems, has made me realize that I have again wished for, and acquired things that I don’t need; another unsuspecting victim of the vicious capitalist regime that has most recently contributed to the downfall of modern society.

Arthur Covert and Harvey Slatin

As I have a keen eye to the future, in my mind’s eye, I must also be forever mindful of the past. Lately I have felt an overwhelming need to revisit the places I used to roam, if only for the emotional fulfillment of some sort of closure. Everyone has a story to tell, and my life and experiences are the foundation of the numerous stories I tell.

I remember being young, perhaps around the age of seven or eight, when my father and his best friend, Arthur Covert, took me to Riverfront Park in Schenectady, New York. Arthur, or Arturo as I knew him, brought along a mason jar and collected a sample of water from the Mohawk River. We brought it back to Arturo’s house and I was instructed to look at the protozoa swimming around in the water under a microscope.

My father explained that these tiny things that I was seeing were the building blocks of life, and one day a new disease might come from organisms such as these, and forever change society. And of course, being young and naive, I didn’t believe him.

Unfortunately, I realize now that my father was in fact, telling the truth. Society as we know it has all but come to a complete standstill, resulting partially in an unexpected opportunity to rediscover the things that I once enjoyed, such as listening to NPR and reading articles in The New York Times. Intellectual pursuits, as I refer to them, include reading news articles and well-crafted blogs on the Internet. I have been reading about all the things I used to think about and on numerous occasions, discuss with my father. Scientific theories on Quantum Physics and other things that were all hypothetical at best. I remember being around the age of 12 and getting scolded by the librarians at the Schenectady County Public Library for reading about Scientific theories such as Buridan’s Ass and Schrödinger’s Cat, instead of reading books in the juvenile section.

I find it strange how ones perception of time depends heavily on the specific moments in our lives, regardless of the order in which they happen. And yet we base our future plans of tomorrow upon the cusp of yesterday; the past often dictating my future unless I make the changes that I need.

The images used in this article came from my personal archives, and were taken at the home of Arthur Covert in Schenectady, New York in the 1980’s.

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