The first two weeks of our confinement are over as I write this on March 30. Somehow, it seems like a much longer time than the 18 days since Canada started to shut down the nation on March 13.
It was very hard to adjust at first. We fretted about cancelled events and lost activities. Some acted a little irrationally, hoarding odd items such as toilet paper, while others stockpiled sugar, flour and onions – odd things, as I said. We didn’t sleep well, or we slept too well, hiding away from the unknowns in a slumberous refuge.
Then there were relationship adjustments to deal with – suddenly, some were too close together for independent people used to daily separation. Others of us with no spouse or family were completely isolated, alone. Television became a terrifying thing if you happened to chance on one of the all-news stations: solemn-faced politicians speaking in sepulchral tones, backed up by civil servants suddenly thrust into stardom as they repeated the same things over and over again, answering the same questions, over and over again, nary a smile between them.
But we have adjusted. We no longer hang on every word flowing smoothly from the cottage at Rideau Hall or the ev-er. . . so. . .pat-i-ent. . . ex-plan-a-tions handed down, syllable by syllable, by the minister of everything and front man for our prime minister. (I know we are a little slow out here, but do you think you could speed up your non-pronouncements, Ms. Freeland? Jeez, we haven’t got all day . . .okay, maybe we do, but still . . .)
Now we are beginning to awaken from what felt like a dreamworld, where days either flew by or seemed interminable, where we were surrounded by a sense of unreality. Suddenly, the world had become a much smaller place; China seemed just around the corner, Italy felt like next door and far flung friends in previously far off places like Panama and Jersey and Vietnam were all going though the same things we were, sharing the same miseries and isolation rules. The gradual growing recognition of all being in this together made us feel closer together.
And we are closer together. You probably talked via Facebook or some other social media with folks you haven’t spoken to in a very long time. You shared music and art and humour – the odd grumble, the odd lecture, the odd rant – but mostly just information and good will.
So today, as we wait for April to start and spring to emerge in our backyards, we are awakening to this new reality. We have quieted. We know that things will get worse before they get better, but we have a sense of comfort that they will get better and we will have learned something. Not sure what yet. Not sure how it will all turn out – we know, though, that some things will never be the same, yet that realization isn’t as frightful as it was even a few days ago. And maybe some things will be better. Maybe this will be the catalyst needed to abandon a few obsolete practices and replace them with something new, freer, more in touch with the technological word we now live in.
April will be a tough month. The spike of cases will continue for a couple of more weeks before they begin to dissipate, but the slowing down will take eight weeks or more, so what about the days to come?
There are some ways to make each day more bearable and maybe even pleasurable.
For me, a lot of that has to do with being in the garden. It is clean-up time and planning time; I can do some structural things that I haven’t done for five years. But it is also time to just enjoy and really see the little things around me. I have spent days looking at old photograph. I am seeing the speckled side plates in my kitchen cupboard with a return of the sense of delight I felt when I bought them more than 50 years ago.
I have taken joy in some of the lovely items gifted to me though the years, pretty things that give me pleasure to hold and contemplate and try to understand wile I remember the giver.
Outdoors is best. I walked around the block the other day and felt the freshness of the air in my lungs. I appreciated the people I passed in the neighbourhood, seeing them deep cleaning and shining their cars or playing with the kids in the front yard. They called out greetings from a distance, glad to see other humans around them. We felt close even so far away.
And I am busy. I can still write and work to get our publications out to entertain and inform you. I can help my favourite organizations. I can do my radio show remotely – it’s all working out okay.
I worry that that many are stressed about money. If you are, reach out and ask for help. If there ever was a time to receive it without any sense of shame it is now. Know there will be jobs when this is over. I believe that we will all be raised on the same tide that has temporarily pulled us down and the resurgence will be strong.
Use this time that has been sent to us as a gift instead of an imposition. Remember that Mother Nature is powerful, and she endows us and every living thing with one indomitable will, and that is the will to survive. Remember that viruses are not technically alive so maybe that gives us humans the edge – we will only host them until our clever bodies and minds find ways to reject them.
And if you just can’t take it anymore, call me. Maybe I can at least make you laugh.