The R.E.M. song “The End of the World As We Know It” wins the award as the most relevant song during these lock-down-times. It was written as a “collective stream of consciousness” in 1987, but takes on new meaning as our unofficial Coronavirus anthem. The phrase apparently was first used in the 1972 film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, where a human says in preparation for battle with apes: “If we lose this battle, that’s the end of the world as we know it.”

If you’re like me, these are the only words of the song that I know. The rest is part of a clever poetic rant that ends with lead vocalist Michael Stipe “feeling fine:”

“Six o’clock, T.V. hour, don’t get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline”

“It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
I feel fine (I feel fine)”

The song came on the radio this morning as I started my daily run through the streets of downtown Portland. Over the past week, traffic has picked up considerably in this area as people are slowly coming out of hiding. It’s getting more challenging to maintain that 6 to 10 foot safety net as the sidewalks begin to fill up. I’m constantly dodging others, weaving out in the street on occasion and impatiently stuck at intersections waiting for cars to pass. Last month it was a ghost town, ideal for runners like me. Today was #4,142 of my consecutive streak. 

One thing that has definitely changed on my runs is the satisfaction of finding lost change. I liken it to treasure hunting, collecting “Pennies from Heaven” (See Post #183). Lately, I’ve become a bit of a germaphobe, so instead of stopping to pick them up, I’ve run right by. I remember collecting a pocketful of pennies in Phoenix when the virus concerns first started. I washed them carefully when I got back, but decided it probably wasn’t a wise thing to touch in the first place. If I were a germ, money would be my favorite hiding place. It’s hard to let it just sit there.

Earlier this week, I spotted three gleaming pennies on my route, and although tempted, cautiously passed them by. To make matters worse, there are so many homeless people downtown that I also feel like I’m stealing from their back yards. You can’t buy much for a few pennies, but to me they are signs from above. The filthy coins were still there two days later, so this morning I put some gloves in my pocket determined to pick them up. Unfortunately, when I got to the sight this morning there was a massive construction trailer parked right over the pavement where they were located. I felt the same disappointment that I all too often see on TV shows like Curse of Oak Island or Lost Gold. In fact, if you’re a germ don’t attach yourself to gold because it never gets found. Maybe, I’ll get my three cents worth tomorrow? Or will the world end first?