THE HEIGHTS SM I L E Herald
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Pieces of Us
Connecting in the Days of Social Distancing
Years ago, when I was a kid, Friday nights were “Doctor Who” nights. Mind you, this was the old-school “Doctor Who,” what the kids today call “Classic Who.” It had all the bad special effects and weird plots you’d expect from ‘80s British sci-fi. Episodes would air on PBS (one of four channels available at that time) and were followed by “Star Gazers,” an astronomy show, with Jack Horkheimer who talked about whatever was happening in the night sky that evening. I thought this double feature was pretty cool and loved getting to stay up on Fridays to watch it. These days, the only way I can watch “Doctor Who” is with a streaming service called BritBox. With this in mind, you’ll understand why I thought I was the only one who still watched “Doctor Who.” I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong. At the office, I’ve even referred to a Dalek or a sonic screwdriver, and a patient has perked up in the chair and asked, “Are you talking about ‘Doctor Who’?” It’s surprising to see how the different interests that we pick up over the years allow us to connect with people in unexpected ways. It highlights how we’re all made of different pieces. Some patients who have picked up on my “Doctor Who” references are the kind of people I would have never expected to
like that kind of show. But I’m sure there are some people who would say the same about me. Our hobbies and interests are often avenues for us to get a break from the daily slog, but I’d like to think they are also opportunities for us to connect with each other. And in a way, by turning the world topsy-turvy, the pandemic also gave us the opportunity to find ways to connect through our shared interests and time to discover new ones. For instance, I don’t like running and I haven’t run much since I was in high school track, but during the pandemic, I really enjoyed going on runs with my eldest daughter. Our family broke out the telescope and spent the summer looking up at the stars from our backyard together. When we go on walks, my wife likes to use the iNaturalist app to identify plants and animals we come across.
My wife and I even took a Zoom class on bird calls. I have really enjoyed these experiences. They’re all new pieces that I’ve gotten to pick up and make connections over. Even though we’re experiencing some uncertain times, I hope you’ve been able to find some good in all of it. I hope you picked up a new hobby, started watching an old favorite TV show, or got to spend more time with your family. Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t still make connections with ourselves and each other.
-Dr. Jason Schermer
P.S. Before anyone asks, the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, is my favorite Doctor.
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