When I was taking business classes sometime during the previous century, one thing that was talked about was “overhead.” It’s a simple concept most people understand intuitively. If you are selling widgets – business classes always talked about manufacturing or selling widgets – and you bought them for $1 each, you would have to charge your customers more than $1 or you couldn’t stay in business. You would need a little extra to pay for your shop, electricity, taxes, and if you hired someone: their salary. Those are overhead costs.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, but in relation to psychological/emotional overhead. There is always a little, but we get used to it and don’t think about it. But lately I have felt a huge overhead load: the political turmoil, the raw hate espoused and acted on, the violence, the increasingly severe weather due to climate change (Tornados in December, one of which evidently travelled for a record of over 200 miles?), and of course Covid. The overhead can be overwhelming.
We (I?) reached our limit yesterday. We cancelled several looked-for social events with friends, packed up the car, picked up two bags of books at the library, and headed south in the pouring rain. We have no itinerary but would like to get into California. But our timing was bad. If we’d left a day earlier, we might have made it, but now there is a severe winter storm in southern Oregon/northern California that is loading lots of snow on Siskiyou Pass, near the state line.
I’ve lived much of my life in snow country, but I don’t relish driving over a pass with chains in iffy conditions. I’ve done that and it isn’t fun. So now we are sitting in Eugene, Oregon, resting until we decide where to go next. We’re fortunate to have these options. And it is just nice to get away.
Once we left the Portland area, we encountered a few people who don’t wear masks even though there are signs on the business doors requiring them. We passed under a number of bridges over the interstate with American flags fastened to the fencing – like a street gang tagging its area. To me, those flags on the bridges are a sign of tribalism, a rending of the social fabric. (I served 24 years in the military under that flag and don’t feel the need to wave it everywhere. In Wyoming there is the saying of someone being “all hat and no cattle.”) We are all Americans, but some people evidently feel the need to declare themselves more American than others.
Andrea and I are double-vaccinated and boosted. Neither of us has any of the conditions that would make us more at risk of Covid. Except age of course. I understand our immune responses decrease as we age. Still, for now we will take our chances. At some point we need to balance our mental health with our physical health. And for now we are OK. We have a nice room in a nice motel, watching the football game in some place other than our living room. In the morning we’ll decide where to go next.