Essay: Appreciating our American way of life

March 17, 2020
A photo of Coors Field, one symbol of appreciating our American way of life.
Coors Field Photo: Getty Images.

A few nights ago, I heard a podcast about our precious American way, how we are a nation that truly embraces “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

And there is a reason the word “life” is first, this wise man said. It’s first because it’s everything.

I have been thinking a lot about how this novel coronavirus, COVID-19, will change us. As people hunker down in their homes and distance themselves from the normal, I’m reminded that as we physically distance ourselves from each other, we’re closer than ever.

We’re talking to each other more – on social media and on our phones. We’re relying on our neighbors. In my neighborhood, a mom with lung disease and small kids reached out to neighbors to ask for help. She needed groceries for her family and because of her underlying health condition, she was scared to leave her home. In seconds, people stepped up to help.

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Taking a ‘time out’ from our everyday lives has given us time to reflect. As Americans, we’re go-go all the time, a nation with ADHD, one that never slows and hardly sleeps. This pandemic has illuminated for me the important roles that each of us plays: teachers, day care providers, grocery store checkers, stockers, pharmacists, truck drivers who deliver our food and medicine and the people who – bless you all – keep our Internet working and our heat and lights on.

When historians write chapters about the year 2020, I’m certain they will highlight many doctors, nurses and first responders who risked their lives to tend to patients who were sick, suffering and scared. I feel so privileged to work with these heroes at UCHealth.

We all know that practicing hand-washing, physical distancing and staying out of crowds is the responsible thing to do. It’s what we hope will help flatten the bell curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.

As we endure this crisis, I am loving the interaction with family and hearing from relatives far away. We’re sharing memes and laughing. I love the one of the lady in the restroom. Since there’s no toilet paper, she’s lifting her skirt and raising her leg in front of the air dryer. It’s called ‘Saving paper.’

Stands at a Colorado Rockies game, a symbol of me appreciating our American way of life.
A Colorado Rockies game. Photo: UCHealth.

I’m reminded of the many ways we pursue happiness during normal times: going to Coors Field to see the Colorado Rockies play, seeing a performance at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, watching the kids play soccer. And it feels weird not having the Final Four, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and not having Mass.

We’re so fortunate to live in America, all of us. I hope we will soon again be reveling with peanuts and Cracker Jack at the ballfield.

In my backyard, I see green grass popping up and buds sprouting on trees. I hear birds singing – the sound and signs of life.

We’re in this together. In a few weeks or so, hopefully we’ll be back to our happy pursuits. When life returns to normal, I know we’ll all have fresh appreciation for the words from our Declaration of Independence.

I personally can’t wait to go to Coors Field. When the players line up and the national anthem plays, everyone join in. Sing as loud as you can.

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.