I have a dear friend who was born on the day that Sputnik first orbitted the earth in 1957. She was born. We were afraid.
I remember the excitement of Telstar and the haunting instrumental hit by the Tornadoes that dramatized its existence in space.
I even worked for Sirius radio and was amazed when a person subscribed we could send an immediate radio signal from space to the the reciever in their cars. They would have that signal from space in a matter of minutes. Our satelite could find our users wherever each of them were travelling.
Then one day in late 2019, I saw an artistic rendering of the number of satelites in orbit around the Earth, all 5700 of them. The size of the satelites was enlarged to make them visible in proportion to the size of the planet.
Looking at this view, I was alarmed to see how much our planet was beginning to resemble a virus cell. The uses of these satelites are not precisely described but here's a ball park of some of them:
- 848 satellites are listed as having commercial users
- 540 with government users
- 422 with military users; and
- 147 with civil users.
These utilitarian satelites represent about 2/3 of the satelites in operation.
2700 satelites are no longer in operation and are just hunks of metal flying through space; the proverbial and ever increading spce junk.
About a month after noticing the similarity between Earth ahd a virus, I decided it would be a good time to read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Earlier in the year I had read The Plague by Albert Camus.
Perhaps I was hyper sensitive.
Shortly after taking the Marquez book from the library, I became ill.
I had diffiiculty breathing for the next 20 days.
I thought that I had the flu and perhaps it had morped into pnuemonia.
Earler in the year, I had my flu shot so what the hell!?!
I didn't do much reading during those days when i was struggline to breathe.
Lynn used our computer to renew the book for me.
By the time I could breathe again without my insides screaming, word began to spread about a virus in China.
I saw my first rendering of the corona virus cell. It reminded me of the rendering that I had seen earlier of satelites and space junk orbitting our planet.
The library closed its doors.
The pandemic was upon us.
We social distanced. We watched teevee. We put on masks.
Thousands of Americans died.
Millions of Americans became infected.
Love in the Time of Cholera remained unopened.
It didn't seem appropriate to be reading such a book at such a time.
Space junk continued to orbit.
Commercial, government, military and civil satelites continued to function.
Months passed. Cities and towns became ghost towns.
Trump pushed the country to open. Encouraged us to get out of our houses and to take off our masks. Masks were for the weak. Kindness is often, too often mistaken for weakness.
The country began to stir, with some parts rushing headlong into the contagion.
Our library suspended all fines months ago while it was closed.
Last week our library begsn to open, allowing ONE patron at a time.
I figured that I better get back to reading Marquez because soon the library would be open to all and I would have to return the book.
Over the last few days, I've read 90 percent of the book. Later today, I will finish it. We only get one chance to read a great book for the first time. With our reading we mark the passages of our lives
I'll get it back to the libary on time...no harm...no foul.
Meanwhile the virus is increasng, communicating and collaborating in North Carolina even as it has been reduced to space junk in New York even as we protest the murder of George Floyd while we abandon social distancing in the name of righteous societal indignation amidst generational exhaustion.
The satelites are still in orbit.
We still look like a virus.
We always will.