How are you going in our new coronavirus reality? Sometimes I think I’m travelling well emotionally. I almost enjoy this quieter world, but then I wake up in the night worrying and can’t get back to sleep and realise I am struggling just like everyone else. I worry about small business owners who can’t make ends meet, people who’ve lost their jobs, and even the terrible fate of those in crowded hospitals in the US and Europe.
All through March I was kind to myself. I didn’t exercise much, and allowed myself to indulge to some decadent food. I guess in hard times you have to indulge yourself and just allow yourself to adjust to a new reality. But this week I have made a timetable for myself so I am productive while trapped in the house and I’ll ease back on the eating.
I will definitely also continue reaching out to friends to check they are okay and also to ‘stay connected’. That is so important for your mental health. I think it’s a good time to reach out to old friends. Again, to check on their welfare, but also so you tap into different people’s realities in different places. Speak to your friends overseas. It is a virtual way of travelling when you are stuck in a house.
I guess my other piece of advice is to maintain some perspective. More than 130,000 people have died worldwide, but did you know that every year 6.2 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 years die, mostly from preventable causes. Of these deaths, 5.3 million die before their fifth birthday. The leading causes of death in children under five are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth abnormalities, diarrhoea and malaria. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 15 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in high income countries like Australia and the US. That is not okay. It has never been okay and I’ve always advocated giving to the less poor and helping as much as you can.
But in rich countries we are no longer ‘acquainted’ with death, and that’s why this virus has shocked us all to our core. 100 years ago our great grandparents would have been threatened by diptheria and tuberculosis. They may have lost brothers and sisters to these terrible diseases, that no longer trouble us. In so many ways this corona pandemic has been humbling. It is humbling because it can infect anyone and endanger anyone’s lives. It is not just children in poor countries who are vulnerable but powerful men, like the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. I think anyone over 40 years has considered the possibility that they could contract the disease and react badly, maybe even die. That is frightening because many of us first-world citizens feel almost super-human. We take for granted advanced technology and well-equipped hospitals. We’ve been allowed to become self-absorbed and self-centred. Today there are people more interested in taking selfies than doing good for their neighbours, but this virus is humbling.
Now people are reaching out to neighbours – shopping for elderly people and cooking meals so senior citizens don’t have to venture out. This pandemic has prompted countless acts of kindness. And we all have to applaud those medical professionals around the world who go to work despite the dangers. Nurses and doctors have died because they cared for infected patients.
Yes, this is a horrible, horrible plague – almost Biblical in proportions, infecting more than two million people, but it has also prompted people to be both brave and kind. That is a blessing we should remember. Now we are living quieter lives, not just endlessly rushing about. We all have time to think about how we want to live and the type of world we want to live in. This could prompt changes for the better. Please use this valuable time well.
I think when people are threatened with danger or death they also appreciate anew all the sweetness of life. They look at their husband or wife and realise how lucky they are. They realise how beautiful their children are. Small things like digging in the garden or baking a cake are enjoyed so much more. We have all been prompted to value the small graces of our lives. Another blessing.
I know there are people out there suffering. I know businesses have been destroyed but I am not being trite when I say to you, stop everyday and count your blessings. And have hope that something good could come out of this dark time. I think countries like Australia and the US will start thinking about how to be more self-sufficient. We may even see a rebirth of manufacturing. Perhaps the gulf between the very rich and very poor will shrink in these countries with a manufacturing renaissance and more jobs. Again, I want to believe this dark cloud could have a silver lining.
It cannot be a bad thing that as humans we are reminded how fragile we are. Reconnect with your faith, sort out your beliefs, love God. Feel humbled, value small graces, live in the moment, and enjoy these long, quiet, languid days if at home. And love your family.
One day this will be behind us. It will be a distant memory, a strange adventure. But perhaps sometime in the future we may feel proud that we did our best, tried our hardest and served others, despite the difficulties we faced. Take this seriously. Stick to the rules, but that doesn’t mean emotional distancing. Keep your friends and family close to your heart.
And take care.
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