Subtitle: I wonder…
Sub-subtitle: A “Ticket to Ride” and “Help!” (with apologies to The Beatles)
Today, I learned a new word. Reiseangst [rīz-se äNG(k)st]. From the German, literally, “travel fear” or a fear of travel.
Yesterday, in response to the rise in the numbers of vaccinated people and the declining rates of infections and deaths, the authorities in the tristate region of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, three of the hardest hit areas during the ongoing pandemic, announced the imminent removal of many commercial capacity limits previously levied to stem the spread of COVID-19. Whilst the public physical-distancing measure of 6-foot spacing will remain in place, amusement parks, barber shops and salons, fitness centers and gymnasiums, offices, museums and theaters (especially Broadway!), retail stores, and restaurants will be free and encouraged to renew or expand operations.
And, in other places, notably Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, states with large populations centers, various COVID-19 imposed restrictions (e.g., mask mandates, revised capacity limits for indoor and outdoor events, and out-of-state travel constraints) are being rolled back.
Applying the notion of travel broadly, thus, neither focused on nor limited to the commercial transportation industry (i.e., airlines, cruise ships, and railroads), how many people will or do experience anxiety about reentering some (any) semblance of life as it was before the pandemic?
How many of us, having spent the past year living for varying periods and in diverse degrees of social isolation, are concerned about returning to their offices for work?
Taking a public conveyance – bus, subway, or taxi – to get to work?
Attending church, mosque, or synagogue?
Dining out, especially indoors?
Socializing with friends and acquaintances?
When I was stricken with COVID-19, I spent two-weeks quarantined from the world and isolated from my wife. Although, now, I have been vaccinated, I am wary of venturing out too freely, too soon. One part of my caution is related to my none-too-pleasant (neither the worst nor the best) experience of the virus and, thus, my ardent desire not to reencounter it or any of its freely-morphing variants.
Another aspect of my self-care, candidly, is my uncertainty, indeed, my unknowing about the attitudes and practices of others. I guard myself against falling prey to the temptation of crossing the regrettable line of making judgments about the character of others; that ubiquitous, nameless “they.” Nevertheless, I wonder…
Are they respecters of the virus?
Are they conscious of their human-duty to keep others safe?
Are they vaccinated?
Are they devoted to good hygiene, at home and everywhere?
Somehow, I do not imagine that I am alone in my wonderments. Therefore, although the lowering of pandemic-raised boundaries to freedom of movement is a figurative “ticket to ride”, I believe that I and, at least, some others, now, for months of out of practice of being in public, may need help getting, coming back.
© 2021 PRA
Note: The term reiseangst was coined by noted Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who, in his day and time, associated anxiety with train travel. (And, yes, given a Freudian-bent, there were attendant deeper associations with reminiscences of the rocking sensation of a child in the mother’s arms and the arousal of the libido. However, these seminal issues and references I shall leave for another post or, best, none at all!)