Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the COVID-19 infection that arises from it have changed the face of our world. We now find ourselves in a place that could scarcely be imagined just a few short months ago. With 5,580,000 people infected and 350,000 dead worldwide, there has hardly been a corner of the globe that has escaped unscathed thus far. In fact, only 15 countries and 11 permanently occupied territories are known to be without any confirmed cases of the virus (and some of those are suspect). Our invisible enemy has no consideration for whom it infects and does not discriminate based on any race, color, creed, or social stature. Perhaps the one thing that makes this tragedy just slightly more bearable is the fact that children have largely been spared its ravages. The upheaval in daily life almost all of us are facing will have far reaching implications for years to come. The impact can be felt in even the smallest aspects of our usual routines. Whether it is social distancing, homeschooling, wearing a mask when out in public, self-quarantining, working from home, or losing one’s job altogether, I think that it is safe to say that whatever “normal” we land on when the dust settles will not be the normal we took for granted a precious few months ago.
With so much suffering amongst the infected, the dead, and those whose lives have been irrevocably impacted, it seems trivial and callous to worry about inconveniences such as the cancellation of events but these too are impactful. The D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow, arguably the largest pen event in the world, was cancelled yesterday without plans to reschedule. The largest of many such cancellations to date amongst the fine writing community, this will surely come as a huge blow to those vendors whose livelihoods are so dependent on the income derived from such events. That news was followed today by Pelikan’s official announcement regarding the cancellation of the 2020 Pelikan Hubs event which was scheduled for September. For the past six years, the Hubs have continued to grow to the delight of novices and enthusiasts alike culminating last year in events taking place in 200 cities spread across 46 countries with over 5,500 registered participants. Just like the pen shows and other major events that have been cancelled to date, Pelikan has made the prudent choice. We have no idea where we will be in the next few months and almost certainly all regions and territories will be in different phases of what we can only hope will be recovery. Still, these seemingly small interruptions add up to create a large void that robs us of the social aspects of the pen community, the human interaction, and interpersonal relationships that so many of us enjoy which can further the feelings of isolation that this virus has fomented. Thankfully, we have the internet to turn to in order to find some solace and camaraderie but it is a poor and hollow substitute for the tactile feel of a new pen, the handshake of an old acquaintance, and the great conversations that are surely being missed. While these cancellations hurt economies and psyches, they are the proper actions that the time and circumstances dictate. I applaud those involved in that decision making and for the incredibly difficult choices they have made to help keep us all safe. As a pulmonary and critical care physician on the front lines of this battle each and every day, I have seen what hopelessness looks like, a slow march to death refractory to all interventions, devoid of even the most basic comforts such as a loved one by the bedside in those final moments. But I have also seen recovery, second chances at life despite all odds to the contrary and that gives me some sense of hope for a brighter tomorrow. We are down right now but we will get back up again and therefore let us all look to a more promising 2021 where we may again hope to gather and revel in each other’s company. Until then, stay safe.
2020 D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow & Pelikan Hubs Cancellation Announcements