By Eric Jeffrey Kaufman
I remember March 10, 2020, as the last day of going to my LA Fitness gym and that March 17, 2020, was the date Austin, Texas officially sheltered in place to deal with the Pandemic.
Being an introspective sort, and regular meditator, I knew in my heart that I was not going to have much of a problem sheltering in place and that largely proved to be correct. As we stopped our daily car trips to get stuff, I started to notice my natural surroundings more and that was a fundamentally positive experience.
Almost immediately, I continued walking outside, initially with a mask and maintaining six feet distancing from people I encountered; dogs and other animals were exempt from the social distancing and that proved a welcome addition to my almost daily walks.
My son got anxious at some point during the sheltering in place and I concocted five different scenarios for him to put the situation in perspective: 1) You do not get the Covid, 2) You get the Covid but have no symptoms, 3) You get the Covid, with symptoms but make a full recovery, 4) You get the Covid, with symptoms and permanent damage, and 5) You get the Covid, and you die.
Obviously, #’s 4 and 5 suck but when you look at the situation objectively, keeping healthy in mind, body and spirit is the best way to combat disease, in my opinion.
At times like a worldwide pandemic, we all understand the importance of being human; to care for others and yourself. As we began to learn to live differently, certain new patterns emerged for me: the routine of life continues, but now I was starting to recognize the importance of nature in our day-to-day existence. Some of us have pets we really love, and they are included in our family circle.
The animal kingdom, in its entirety, is part of our ecosystem and we depend upon many of those animals for our sustenance; maybe, just maybe I can have a little more reverence and humility for those animals who gave their lives for our human sustenance.
After the snow-maggedon event in Texas in February 2021, we all learned we had to be quite humble, as we were shoveling snow so we can fill our toilets with water to flush our toilets. In other parts of the world, there are no toilets to flush, so in many ways we are quite privileged here in the middle of America. The notion of privilege often evades us in our ordinary lives because we generally have a lot here in terms of food security, energy security, money security and even physical security. The Pandemic taught us all that the perception of security can be quite ephemeral and we should cherish it like we cherish our toilet paper and other necessities.
My wife said she never expected that we would ever experience a pandemic but after visiting the Jimmy Carter library in January 2017 and I saw the exhibit about infectious diseases, it seemed not only possible, but even inevitable. Whether this was an example of natural, or human causes, is almost immaterial and will become a moot point as the future ravages of climactic changes that bring drought, wildfires, flooding, heat waves and cyclonic windstorms will no doubt bring new and improved pandemics to deal with in the not-too-distant future. But, for now, at least here in America, COVID is on the wane (fingers crossed), and we are hoping to have a return to a new normal.
Back in 2016-2017, when I was writing a Call to Action, Klaus Jacob told me about a concept he had called, “Nomadic Infrastructure.” When I prodded him to explain, he said, “I am not really sure, but we did a study in Lagos where people were building houses on stilts, so they could move them when floods came.”
This concept of Nomadic Infrastructure has interested me since that talk and is teaching me that the concept of fixed infrastructure which the industrial revolution is based upon is obsolete and we require communities that have portable housing, energy structures and even security systems to protect ourselves against natural weather events, as well as potential sea level rise.
The Pandemic allowed me time to formulate what a truly sustainable, resilient, and smart community might look like. My conclusion is that a combination of tiny houses, Dymaxion houses and Dymaxion apartment towers with a renewable energy DC microgrid (with much less thermal loss than current energy systems) and utility sized battery storage will create a Nomadic Infrastructure to build upon as people are forced to consider leaving their current homes to seek areas with perhaps higher elevation, cleaner water, and air and perhaps a more temperate climate.
I tell a lot of my social media friends in areas that are drought ridden to consider leaving, if possible, to come to a more hospitable place to live. Some are listening, but others will wish to remain in their current abodes until the very end. It is a human choice, and one that must be respected, in my opinion.
Speaking of respect, the Pandemic began under the Trump regime, and we are now in the Biden era here in America. Without getting too political, the divisiveness in America sort of reached its zenith during the Pandemic and I am hoping that we can bridge the chasm that is America today. Sometimes I think the Reds and Blues have irreconcilable differences, but we have learned through crises like the Pandemic that to get a divorce would replace these United States of America and might be more harmful than the estranged couple that Democrats (advocates for a Democracy) and Republicans (advocates for a Republic or Oligarchy as we seem to have today) have become in today’s America.
As I conclude this writing, we are amid another uptick in Virus cases due to a Delta variant and it seems to be an instance of unvaccinated versus vaccinated causing the uptick. We are learning that people do not always do what the scientists and politicians tell us to do. And maybe, just maybe, that is lawful and natural.
Welcome to the human condition.
By Eric Jeffrey Kaufman