I don’t know that I want the coronavirus shutdown to end.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m devastated over the number of dead and infected. But if there was a way to live like we’ve been doing since the advent of the outbreak without actual sickness, that would be okay.
Some good things are happening. I wouldn’t mind seeing them continue.
Pre-outbreak, good luck seeing a doctor at the clinic. The waiting rooms were overrun, likewise the emergency room. Since COVID, people are thinking twice. They’re realizing the things they thought needed a doctor for, the things they thought were emergencies really aren’t. No, you don’t need the doctor to tell you it’s a head cold. This has freed up chunks of the healthcare system’s money and time (or it would if said funds weren’t currently being redirected COVID-ward). Wouldn’t it be nice if people maintained this sensible and respectful attitude as we start reopening society?
People seem to be taking better care of themselves too. Okay, drinking is up and that’s probably not a universal good, but there’s more home cooking. More real food. People are taking daily walks with the family. Life is back to being a little slower. These things contribute to health too.
Pre-outbreak, in the developed world, people shopped. People shopped a lot. It was recreation, socialization, and distraction. But like most habits, once the behaviour gets interrupted, it’s easy to see the problems. Most of what we headed out to buy was unnecessary. We cluttered our lives and polluted the planet for nothing of any substance. What we needed doesn’t come from a store. The meaning of life is not the enrichment of corporations and CEOs.
Speaking of pollution which we weren’t, the air and water are better of late. It turns out we don’t need motorized vehicles as much as we thought. We can’t go out, so we don’t, and it turns out that’s a good thing. We can’t travel, so we don’t, and that may be a good thing too. I don’t want to return to the location-bound days of yore, but if air travel happened less often but was better again, I wouldn’t complain.
I appreciate less noise pollution as well. I sleep better and I’m less tense during the day. I notice things in the silence, like a train whistle or an occasional plane, in a way I didn’t before. I’ve never been so aware of birdsong, of the great variety and type.
Not being able to go out led to significant changes. What to do if we can’t crowd together at the pub, hang out weekend mornings at soccer games? We’ve adapted. Homelife is bopping again. People are hanging out on the streets, currently at appropriate social distances, chatting with their neighbours, watching kids play. They drink more of the aforementioned whine. We’re becoming social. We’re becoming neighbourhoods again.
Our appreciation of the small things has grown. Our sense of gratitude has grown. How lucky we are. How blessed we are to have so much. You hear that a lot. I hear if from the people on my street, from my friends. I’ve overheard similar conversations at my weekly grocery shop. I’ve talked about it with my mother.
In the beginning, the surfeit of time felt weird. What to do? How to fill it? We tried to fill all of it. That was exhausting although it’s nice to have the junk room organized. Other people went other ways, cocooning for a time. But we’re adapting. Most of us. Some scream about public health requirements as being akin to Stalinism. They demand the right to harm themselves. I’d be fine with it if they’d promise not to hurt others. For the rest of us, we’re starting to see the benefits of changing our way of life. It’s more peaceful. It’d be nice if we could stay.
We’ve started to remember people. We’ve started to like them again. We’ve started to remember that family is important. That quality time is good but quantity time is even better. We’re hanging out.
The world feels like a slower, easier place.
I wouldn’t mind seeing it stay that way.
We’d feel better and nature would be ever so appreciative. Though I do spare a moment to think of what it would mean to the grotesquely rich. There’s a possibility they might not be able to buy that third yacht or island in the Maldives if things stay changed. They have my sympathies.
(I recognize that I’m able to say this because I am hideously and fortunately blessed. I do not live in an area that was devastated by the virus, like Vertova or New York. I don’t live in a country where people are starving or going broke, for the most part; at least this hasn’t made it appreciably worse. I’m not rich but I’m middle class. I’m grateful for these things. I don’t know anyone who is sick; the only COVID death I know of is a friend’s father, but he’d been ill with dementia for some time so in many ways, was already gone. So, I recognize that for me, this hasn’t been as terrifying and misery-inducing as it has for others. I’m grateful for my circumstances. To those who have suffered and lost, I’m very sorry. You are in my thoughts.)