The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is without a doubt a grave and horrifying situation. We’ve been watching the news and reading the papers, talking to friends and family about what to do and generally pulling together while keeping our distance. We keep hearing “We don’t know” from the experts while we muddle through washing our hands fifty times a day while singing Happy Birthday To Me and avoiding crowds. Worrying about it stresses our immune systems which further increases our risk. What’s a person to do?
I’ve kept myself somewhat isolated for a few days now in the interests of personal safety and I must confess I’ve rather enjoyed my alone time. My bliss will no doubt not last forever, but it has served to remind me that there’s an upside to every downside. Yin and yang. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as being or comprising opposite and especially complementary elements. There is an off-setting counter-balance and now’s the time to investigate the possibilities.
At times like this, the world has a way of presenting new perspectives and ultimately providing learning opportunities on how we live our lives. Look at how the simple Keep Calm and Carry On served the people of Britain during World War II. We’ve created a bit of a mess in this old world and perhaps this crisis will give us the time and means we need to reassess and redesign our lifestyles.
As seniors (baby boomers), my husband and I are in the high-risk category. Therefore, I feel it’s particularly important to be sensible without panicking. We’re taking it one day at a time but our current approach is to lie low and take advantage of the restrictions on our lifestyle. I’m not thrilled that I might not be able to attend the writers’ retreat I was soooo looking forward to in Paris in June of this year. Perhaps it will be rescheduled and postponed to a date when travel is safer. C’est la vie!
From the glass-half-full perspective, there are many ways, however, of approaching this situation that could have a positive outcome and improve our lives:
- My decision to avoid shopping malls will have a markedly positive effect on my credit card balance and clothing inventory, despite the obvious hit to the economy resulting from my absence.
- I’m currently on the waiting list for eleven E-books at the library with varying wait-times. That should take me well into fall and my mind will be so enriched by then no one will be able to stand being around me. I’ll be an expert on everything.
- My pantry is well-stocked thanks to the suggestions of all those daytime women’s television shows I’ve PVR’d over the years. I have many cans of diced tomatoes, boxes of pasta, cartons of chicken broth, lots of frozen vegetables, enough frozen meat that I won’t be protein-starved, and enough boxes of Red Rose tea to take me into the next millennium. I’d already made a run to Costco before this virus let loose so I have plenty of soap, tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, and fish oil. I’m prepared for a nuclear disaster.
- Remember how lost we were the last time our power/electricity went out at night? And that was only for an hour or two. I was OK with my books on a backlit iPad but my husband was totally bereft without television and sports channels. I’ll be fine during this crisis but I may have to get a new husband. Or I could teach him to expand his cooking skills. That would improve my life enormously.
- Thankfully, we still have electricity. Until Putin messes with our grid, we can still watch television, listen to the radio, do laundry, enjoy our music, torment Alexa, and generally live relatively normal lives.
- We’re going to be spending a lot more quality time with our loved ones for a while. Young people, in particular, might take advantage of the opportunity to learn the forgotten art of in-person conversation. Parents could reconnect with their offspring. Husbands and wives could reconnect with each other.
- We’re being forced to slow down and I’m convinced this can only be a good thing. Let’s use this timeout to sit on our porch or patio and simply watch the world go by. It’s a scientific fact that new ideas, creativity, and inspiration come from idle minds wandering. We’ve been driving in the fast lane too long and we’re killing ourselves. This may be the most important benefit of all.
So, enjoy your time off. We’re in it together. I’m already feeling lighter about reading the day away without guilt. My husband’s experimenting in the kitchen, and cleaning issues aside, that’s a good thing. Catch up on sleep; Skype the grandkids; try new recipes; play board and card games; exercise or do yoga; cuddle with your sweetie; purge your closets and basement; dig out those art supplies and put them to use. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do some of the things we claim we never have time for.
Imagine the new ideas, music, art, and literature that could blossom from this time of self-contemplation. Maybe we’ll get lucky and a cure for cancer will finally emerge from all the scientific research and experimentation that’s taking place now.
Whether we’re already self-isolating or social distancing, let’s consider the advantages of our enforced downtime. There are positive ways of coping with the impact of this pandemic. The world will go on and with patience and cooperation, we will emerge safely on the other side. We’ll learn from this experience and hopefully grow on a personal level as well. We need to be patient, cautious and sensible. We’re all in this together and we’ll come out stronger for the experience. Even though it’s tempting to run around in a panic because the sky is falling, slow down and enjoy your time-out. And be thankful for the amazing people in the health-care sector who are taking care of us.