OPINION: Once In A Lifetime


 

 

When I was a child, I was once grounded for refusing to attend a computer camp my parents had signed me up for one summer. This included being banned from playing in the World Series my little league team had reached that season.

Defying my father’s wishes after he left for a church meeting, I snuck out and walked a mile down to the local park to play in the game. All was going well, we were up late in a close game and the prospect of finally earning a little league World Series championship was nearing reality. Then I turned upon hearing my name while sitting in the dugout, and saw my dad standing on the other side of the chain link fence.

Tears were shed as I silently packed up my gear, and my coach’s protestations fell on deaf ears as I shuffled past my confused teammates. They would all soon get their chance to litter the infield with hats and gloves, racing to hop the outfield fence in celebration of a championship win. I spent that night alone in my room, having received not cheers but condemnation for disobeying my father.

In a way, that minor trauma of my childhood gives me some sympathy for Los Angeles Dodgers’ infielder Justin Turner, who defied COVID-19 safety protocols after testing positive to celebrate winning the 2020 MLB World Series with his teammates. Winning a championship in any sport, at any level, is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Where our experiences differ however, is that I was a child and had not tested positive for a contagious virus that could have killed my coach. As many have pointed out in the last few days, Turner’s selfish act is emblematic of a general malaise that has set in locally and nation-wide toward COVID safety protocols. The politicization of the pandemic and the fatigue we’ve all felt over the past eight months is cumulative, but it should not inhibit our ability to care for our neighbor. We’ve all had events in our lives postponed or held with less fanfare than we would have liked at this point, but the only way we buy enough time for those working around the clock for a vaccine is if we all continue to buy in.

A few weeks ago, I experienced another once-in-a-lifetime moment in most people’s lives. In an elaborately planned proposal with a photographer on hand to capture the moment, I got engaged. Upon hearing my girlfriend Claire say yes, the rest of the turmoil going on in the world did not matter as much. Despite not having dined inside a restaurant since the onset of the pandemic, she and I retreated to a socially distant corner table with our masks on until food and drink arrived. Even with that brief feeling of invincibility and overwhelming excitement for our future in both our hearts, we still kept our heads about us and approached our celebratory dinner as safely as we could.

It will be safe to hold large weddings, celebrations, sporting events and have dog piles on the mound again one day, but in the meantime we keep each other safe by the choices we make individually to slow the spread. The sooner we take accountability for those choices, the sooner we can get back to making once-in-a-lifetime memories.

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