Have you ever wanted the world to stop spinning, just for a little bit, so you could catch your breath? Well, be careful what you ask for.
Yesterday I had a lovely conversation with a very good friend in Scotland. While I’m not unaware of the doom and gloom plaguing the world and our news outlets and that many of us are struggling with fear and anxiety exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, I was relieved to hear the hope and joy in his voice. I pop back and forth between thinking things are fairly normal-ish for me and that everything is going to be ok (or as ok as it can be) and then worrying about my grandmother’s health not only related to the virus but to routine concerns including age, skin cancers and a-fib. I wonder what the future will look like for all of us, but I also have to get on with my responsibilities, with extra exercises, a healthier diet and more meditation included. I try to make Nana as comfortable and happy as possible and find balance with my own end-of-school work, writing and remote-job hunting. It’s not always easy. Every morning I wake up with the habitual thought, “ok, I’m awake, what’s first? Tea? A walk?” only to remember two seconds later that the world out there is not business as usual. But I’m used to working from home and embracing life as an introvert. And although Nana has only been staying with me for close to two weeks, we’re figuring out our new routine.
Yes, there is world chaos, the uneasy reality, the grave issues regarding healthcare and the sickness and death of loved ones and the misleading messages from leaders, news sources and trolls. It’s a strange and upsetting time, which many of us have never lived through. Surely we didn’t think we were immune to wars, disease and the like, although we may have hoped. Before 2016 so many of us were apathetic, going along with the way things were. Even those we didn’t like didn’t really seem all that bad, at least not enough to disrupt our creature comforts. The year 2008 was a real shitter, but then we got Obama. There was hope. It wasn’t until the elections in 2016 that we were knocked out of our easy chairs. It was then that folks started to realize something was amiss, and something needed to be done. Climate change became more of a central issue as did gun reform, healthcare, immigration and human rights. But that wasn’t enough for the universe. Now we have a crazy virus that’s swallowing the world. Was it something we said, or didn’t? Were we not acting quickly enough? Had we not paid enough attention and exchanged humanity and nature for greed? Is there something the universe is trying to tell us?
There is death, pain, chaos and disease. I don’t want to discount what is happening in the world. This is scary and devastating. But what if we took a few minutes to look at some of the more positive aspects? Because humans are staying in more, there is less smog and pollution in major cities around the globe. People are reaching out to help others. Worldwide, voices are being heard, oftentimes from balconies. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a global ceasefire to focus on “the true fight of our lives.” And the education system is being altered through the efficacy of homeschooling. We are all beginning to understand the power of the internet and how many things we can do from home: order groceries (or just about anything); conduct meetings; visit with relatives; learn new skills; and travel. A few days ago, I wanted to go on safari and see giraffes; so, I did. A day or two later, I went to Paris, in black and white, then watched an incredible film called Clinamen by Hugo Arcier via the National Opera of Paris. This past Sunday, I toured the Sistine Chapel. I watched a ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre, and this week I may even attend a play from the National Theatre in London. Of course I’d love to do all of these things in person, and yes, life is absurd right now, but perhaps we’ve been given a chance to stop and think about what we want our lives to be like once this madness has passed. And although it may take some time, it will pass. “What to do? What to do?” is one of Nana’s and my sayings. That and, “We have a time, don’t we?” Yes, yes we do.
A couple of weeks before this hit here in Louisiana, I’d given up most delicious things like caffeine, sugar, bread, cheese, bubbles and too much salt. Sunday, Nana and I watched “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” in Italy, Paris and Barcelona and I got the sudden craving for red wine. I’ve noticed the difference not having it, but I sure did want a glass. Has anyone out there tried drops to reduce sulfites? Sounds like a dream to me. I’m cooking a lot more often now that Nana is staying with me, and I’m trying to stay healthy. Some things I’ve cooked include chicken curry, split pea soup, baked fries and fish with a bell pepper sorta salsa kinda thing. Oh, and there was the super yum and quick apple crumble. Not 100% healthy, but it has oatmeal and apples and I used fake-ish sugar, so that’s good, right? I also fell off the diet yesterday and made homemade bread. Sooooo good. Damn you, Phil. Good thing I don’t have wine in the apartment.
Of course, like everyone else, I have tons of all-over-the-place questions. But I’ve decided not to post them. We don’t know what’s coming. And it’s no use adding my uncertainty to the blogosphere. The ambiguity is disconcerting, but it’s also reminding me to live in the present.
Some advice (note to self):
- Fewer check-ins of news and social media
- Develop an exercise routine
- Download a meditation app
- Discover new hobbies
- Read more, learn something new, a language perhaps
- Take an online cooking class, from LaDurée, for instance
- Travel the world via Internet
- Call or Skype, Zoom, etc. with friends and loved ones
This morning I woke up with a Broadway musical dance workout. If this isn’t the time to embrace your silliness, then I don’t know what is. Move with Colour is another fun one. I learned a new Nana saying: “My nose itches. Someone must be comin’ with a hole in their britches.” Therapy, if the need arises, is easily accessible by phone and Internet. Friends have offered to drop off vegetables and other groceries as well as seeds for planting. So far, we have Internet and basic cable channels (at least enough for a few judges, westerns and BBC news).
I realize not everyone is able to take advantage of this down time. Although I am about to finish school and am looking for remote jobs, which seem to be few and far between, I am fortunate that we have what we have and that I’m able to spend time with Nana. My friend I spoke with has created a daily routine including exercise, helping out his neighbor with dementia (with social distancing, of course), learning a new language, discovering interesting subjects through podcasts, reading and writing but also allowing himself some him-time to breathe and take it all in. This is an interesting time we’re living in. And instead of getting caught up in the anxiety, we need to take time to breathe, get creative and learn new things about the world and ourselves. We could do some great things right now to make this world the one we’d really like to live in. What kind of world do you want to live in? Bon appétit.