At a Distance: The World is Still Social

Human beings are social creatures, so by our very nature it’s hard to stay apart. Apparently, we cannot even go enjoy nature without getting in each other’s space.

Thanks to COVID-19 freeing up time for a lot of workers, people are now cramming into some parks and getting a little too close. Over the weekend, Shenandoah National Park cautioned that some areas were getting to crowded and that county officials were closing off roads to some trailheads. Acadia National Park also cautioned that CDC social distancing guidelines should be adhered to. Blue Ridge Parkway is limiting backcountry camping to small groups.

Texas State Parks are open, but please don’t bring cash. They want you to order permits online instead. Visitor centers and park offices are closed. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department motto is “Life’s Better Outdoors,” and well that remains true, people still need to keep their distance. Similarly, the City of Mont Belvieu, Texas, welcomes residents to enjoy the parks with precautions. It posted a flyer to its Facebook page with health guidance. “Do not use parks or trails if you are exhibiting symptoms.” The flyer also cautions that bathrooms will not be available and suggests alerting others to your oncoming presence, e.g., the use of bicycle bells. The flyer urges maintaining the CDC-recommended distance of 6’. In our subdivision, I’ve noticed neighbors remaining socially distant on walks.

The question is how long can we stay separate? A certain politician who need not be named suggested in a tweet he would prefer economic activity to pick up in favor of social distancing. I don’t see this as a trade. Economic activity is slow or halted now no matter what. As more cases spread and more hospitalizations occur, people will likely be scared to congregate.

But for the moment, they are flocking to city parks. Just stay spread out! The other day I was walking my dog and some neighbors wanted to avoid me. Now that we know this virus hangs in the air, I can’t say I blame them!

If you have the luxury of a backyard, use it. If you go to a park, steer clear of others.

By all accounts, we’re in for a long haul of social distancing. We are going to rely on the internet for virtual socializing, such as hangouts, and find more ways to reconnect with ourselves. Read a book. Mediate. Try yoga. Bake. Cook. Walk. Jog. Snuggle. Daydream. Learn a language. Start a journal or keep a calendar with all your new, socially distant activities. We can do this.

It reminds me of the song, “From a Distance,” except we’re now, “At a Distance.” Stay that way, people!