Never in a million years would I have imagined writing a column under circumstances like those we’re seeing unfold with the COVID-19 pandemic. Be that as it may, up till now PG has focused on offering some sense of normality when life is increasingly anything but. And while we will continue to do this so you have some respite from the 24/7 deluge of not-very-good news, in my eyes we’re also well past the point where it’s insulting to not at least briefly acknowledge the situation.

We—you and me and our friends, loved ones, and wider worldwide family—are suffering in ways unseen in most of our lifetimes. For the majority of us, the worst part isn’t (yet?) due to actual infection, but rather the cumulative mental and emotional distress caused by coronavirus’ unprecedented disruption of our professional and personal lives. Livelihoods are at risk everywhere, and even if you’re lucky enough to not yet be feeling the financial pinch, we’ve all had enough experience with reality to know it might not be far off. The new normal is to expect any number of life’s heretofore “everyday” aspects to change, well, every day. What I write now may be either quaint or ridiculous next week, tomorrow, or by the next paragraph.

Needless to say, “acknowledging” this situation as a wee little guitar-site/mag editor is daunting. Shit, writing my monthly column was already daunting back before we were all struggling to avoid bloodless Walking Dead scenarios playing out in our heads every night. At present, pretty much all I can think of to do is call upon the prescient wisdom of your favorite Canadian and mine, Celine Dion. For was it not she who, in the year 1997 (and with the help of silver-screen schlockmeister James Cameron), so proclaimed, “Every night in my dreams / I see you, feel you…”

Hold on, that’s not the part I was thinking of. [Rummages around.] Ah, here it is: “Near, far, wherever you are / I believe that the heart does go on / Once more, you open the door / And you’re here in my heart.”

Like you, I’m constantly trying to convince myself, my wife, my kids, and my friends that everything’s going to be fine. Because that’s what we do. It’s that or throw in the towel.

Er, this isn’t really going that great, is it? You didn’t come here for cold-sweat flashbacks of faux-Celtic pan flutes and god-awful ’90s electric-piano sounds, let alone a reminder of a not-entirely comforting moment in history. Alas, the point is—A) y’all are in my heart (and the entire PG staff’s collective hearts), and B) don’t forget to keep opening the door … to hope and positivity. Only hope and positivity. Seriously, this self-distancing stuff ain’t a joke. Don’t be one of those dumbasses out there partying and dismissing advice from people much smarter than you and me with garbage like, “It’s basically the flu, man!” or “I’m young so it can’t hurt me.” These are today’s equivalent of “Nothing could sink this fancy new ship.”

I joke a little here because if I don’t, well, being serious all the time—even when things seem kinda dire—will drive you batty. Like you, I’m constantly trying to convince myself, my wife, my kids, and my friends that everything’s going to be fine. Because that’s what we do. It’s that or throw in the towel.

Besides, there are bright spots. China’s rates of native coronavirus are currently dropping. And while we know a vaccine is pretty far off, just yesterday it was announced that an already-available Japanese flu treatment can drastically improve patients’ prognoses. Government and charitable-organizations are daily announcing new efforts, programs, and funds to help both everyday citizens and those especially at-risk. And there are many ways you and I can easily help. One that’s close to our hearts is the MusiCares Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is helping thousands of full-time artists whose lives are being impacted by gig cancellations. We encourage you to donate whatever you can. Meanwhile, let’s all see if we can’t be more like other cool Canadians—like the ones who started the “caremongering” virtual community to help people suffering from COVID-19-induced anxiety and isolation. Let’s stay properly cautious and safe while finding ways to help, whether it’s getting groceries and prescriptions for at-risk neighbors, or doing online reach-outs to those in need. Our hearts must go on, friends. Let’s do it for Celine!