Silver Linings, Covid19 Edition

Silver linings in the time of Corona

I’m collecting inspirational stories of how people the world over are dealing with being quarantined, what they’ve experienced and how this crisis is changing them. I will add them here to my blog as I find them. 

In any disaster, there are always silver linings. There’s always something to be grateful for, no matter how hard things get. Of course there’s also fear, anger, bargaining —all the stages of grief. Those are part of the human condition. But so is joy, laughter and sometimes even rising up from the ashes.

Important note:  These posts aren’t meant to downplay the crisis that’s unfolding around us—us meaning the entire human race.  They in no way take away from the very real pain, fear and grief that so many are feeling.  They’re meant to uplift, inspire and show that life goes on, even in tragedy.   We are literally—the entire world—all in this together. 

My first story is from the fabulous Jenny Simanowitz, in her own words:

I get up and shower, put cream on my face and deodorant under my arms. Why do I wear deodorant? Nobody’s going to get near enough to smell me. For that matter why bother to shower? Every day? Probably no one needs to shower every day anyway and much less in a time when the only person you’re going to meet is yourself. The cream, ok, that’s understandable, that’s an investment for when we will again be meeting our friends, going out for dinner or working and we don’t want to expose a fully withered, wrinkled face to the world.

But why change clothes every two days? For whom? I’ve heard that some people are staying in their pajamas all day. I find that perfectly sensible. It saves washing and it saves time. Or rather, it saves washing because the last thing we want is to save time. On the contrary, we are looking to do things that take as much time as possible. People have started taking baths instead of showers. They say it’s to relax but I think that they’re doing it to prolong the washing period, which isn’t necessary anyway (see above)

And cleaning the apartment. I’ve read proud accounts of appartments that are shining like never before. Not a trace of a cat hair or a breadcrumb or a scrap paper anywhere! I say, what’s the point? Nobody’s coming to visit anyway.

I also put on my hearing aid as soon as I get up although I probably won’t be talking to anyone for hours. I don’t need my hearing aid sitting at my computer. But it’s habit, maybe even a good one because I believe your hearing gets worse f you don’t wear it.

We’ve been trained in these rituals and we hang on to them. It’s a good education in how we humans hang on to our habits even if they no longer serve a purpose.

Some rituals certainly help you to keep sane in this time of isolation. I do a bit of yoga every day, I go for a walk, I prepare at least one tasty meal although I’m the only one eating it (my partner is doing his crisis time in Portugal) and theoretically I could live on fried eggs on toast. I’m so used to cooking meals for two that I cook far too much. Then I eat it all up, more from boredom than from hunger.

And because it takes more time.

My friend wrote me this morning:

‘A total devastating shit show for our world. I’m scared and my anxiety has spiked. I try to be outside each day. Walking. Breathing in fresh air. I hope you’re doing the same. Sending love and safe healing wishes to you and our world, Mother Earth 🌍🌍’

I want to hug her and tell her everything is going to be fine. But she’s half a world away, and we aren’t supposed to hug anymore. I want to assure her this too shall pass, as I believe with my whole heart. But sadly I think it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

I’m no scientist, but I’ve been reading posts and articles by people much smarter than me who say that if the US and Europe is going to avoid Italy, China or Iran’s fate (bless them) we need to do things NOW! Not tomorrow, not in three days, but today.

Austria has put strong measures in place, but I fear people aren’t following them. When I went to do my last shopping yesterday, people were out at bars, restaurants, cafes—not that far from each other. And I keep reading how young people in the US are lining up to go to clubs. Do they not read the news? Do they not know that we need to #flattenthecurve? Do they not have older people in their lives, or even friends with pre-existing conditions? Why don’t they care? (I was young once, I get it.)

I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom. I’m also seeing small miracles. Strangers in my usually reserved city were talking to each other! People were polite, kind and helpful to one another even as they were panic shopping. Silver linings abound. We need to be realistic, take the threat seriously and #stayathome, because just washing our hands more ain’t gonna cut it. But there’s so many instances already of kindness and love (dare I say oneness?) coming out of the darkness. Look at the Italians—who’ve been through pure hell—turning music into communion and laughter from their balconies. They’re showing us that no matter how dark it gets, we will get through this.

People are beginning to realize that we’re all connected. We’re all in this together. Viruses don’t care about borders, economic status, or political affiliations.

The world is changing, and with change often comes great heartache and sacrifice. But there’s also beauty and reason for hope: people are riding their bikes instead of driving; they’re helping small businesses, and families are bonding at home. In certain Chinese cities, people can look up to a blue sky for the first time in who knows how long. Mother Earth is getting a much-needed break.

We can all do our part to move faster through these scary times, like helping an elderly neighbor (from a distance). But the best and easiest thing to do right now is to just stay at home. Social distancing works. Self-quarantining is vital if you have symptoms.

Remember there’s people in much worse circumstances than ourselves, and they’re also facing this virus, and from much less-privileged conditions. the faster we move through this, the more it will help them and the less the burden on the whole system will be.

I’m going to tell my dear friend what I’m telling myself: bad times end, new beginnings grow out of fear and darkness, and growth can be born from madness. Breathe, go for walks (separately!) Skype with friends and family, LAUGH, and know, this too shall pass. But we have to work together.

#stayathome #distanceyourselves #drinkaquarantini!

#stayhealthy

Perspective

The photo on the left is the view from my hotel room in Bali. On the right is the view from my hospital bed a couple weeks later.

Life can change in an instant. We all know this rationally, but few of us really take in that message, myself included. Sure, when young, talented, famous people die, we’re shocked. We think, ‘Wow, if HE (or she/they) can die so young and in the prime of his life, then of course a lesser human being, (me) absolutely could.’ And it scares us and gives us pause for a day or two. We may hold each other a little tighter for a minute. But that fades quickly. No, it usually takes something that hits even closer to home like losing a loved one unexpectedly, getting a bad diagnosis, or having an accident for it to really hit home.

When I got back from Bali, I somehow developed an abscess and it became badly infected (staph infection). I went to the ER and they admitted me after taking a blood test and seeing that my inflammation markers were really high. I was there for a week. I’m healing now thankfully but it was pretty scary there for a few days. I’m just sharing because I want to remind people how fragile life is. There’s a meme that says, ‘ The problem is, you think you have time.’ And I don’t think its meant to say, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY TIME YOU’RE GONNA DIE SOON! but I think its saying, time goes by so quickly. we are distracted and busy with our jobs, our to-do lists, etc, and we forget to take time to do the things we really love, or tell people how we feel. It would be tragic if your life or that of someone you love came to an end suddenly and you didn’t share how you felt. Don’t let that happen. Be vulnerable, risk feeling stupid; it’s hard but its worth it. You will never have to think, ‘if only I had done or said x…’

Shoutout to my mom

I want to give a little shoutout to my mama.  We’ve had our differences over the years, like any mother and daughter, but I can honestly say she’s one of the most thoughtful people I know. And woefully under-celebrated for it. One small example: if you mention you like something, even in passing, she’ll put it in her memory bank for later.  She’ll notice what chocolate you eat when you’re home and mail it halfway around the world, wrapped, for Christmas.  My mother has never forgotten a birthday or an anniversary or overlooked an important date. (The woman’s got a memory of an elephant. Unless you’ve wronged her—in that case she lets it go). She sends more cards for these events than anyone I know: even to people she doesn’t know that well or who have abused her and my father’s kindness. 

With her church group, Peg hand-knits shawls for people who are sick or grieving. My grandmother used  to call her the power behind the throne, (my father being the king) and she wasn’t kidding.  I think even Dad  would agree (to a point) that that’s a fairly accurate statement, or at least not inaccurate.  Hers is a quiet power. 

Probably no one would accuse her of being touchy feeling or lovey dovey. My first boyfriend still jokes about how, after years of us dating, she still signed her cards to him, ‘Fondly, Peg.’ As mentioned, her caring nature is more quiet; backed up by actions instead of little nicknames or endearing monikers, for which she has little patience. (I may have gotten that from her.) 

My mother is extremely humble and probably would never want me to post her picture here, but I just wanted to show my appreciation, because unfortunately it’s rare that I do. Love you Mom! Thank you for all you do, for me and so many others.