Life in the time of coronavirus

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At the top of the Coquitlam Crunch. This popular hike got too busy with the fine weather and new rules were imposed to promote social distancing. Up the east stairs, down the west!

We are living in a reality that seems unreal. It’s a dystopia like something out of the imagination of Margaret Atwood or Stephen King. Those of us who didn’t live through a world war (that is, most humans alive today) have no experience of a global crisis like that caused by Covid-19.

Here in Canada, as in most other countries, we have all been affected. And the changes and restrictions have happened so quickly and relentlessly that it’s hard for us to adapt.

I remember I had a sense of foreboding two or three weeks ago, when life was still going along as usual but we were beginning to hear about the spread of the coronavirus. Then, within days, normal life got cancelled.

  • Races were cancelled.
  • Events or gatherings of over 250 people were cancelled.
  • Gyms closed.
  • Libraries closed.
  • Businesses and stores closed.
  • Schools closed.
  • Flights were cancelled.
  • “Social distancing” and “self-isolation” entered our vocabularies—not without some confusion as to what those terms meant.
  • Lineups at Costco and everywhere for toilet paper provided fodder for countless jokes on social media. But the panic shopping continued.
  • Grocery stores imposed new hours, rules, and floor markings to enforce social distancing.
  • Park facilities like soccer fields, tennis courts, and skateboard parks closed. Ironically, this happened because the lovely weather in Vancouver last week (the first week that most of the restrictions and closures were put into place) encouraged people to flock out of doors and gather in large groups in defiance of the rules and social distancing guidelines.
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Lots of people, especially families, were cycling and walking at Colony Farm last weekend.

Now, most of us are quickly adjusting to the new reality. We are resilient.

It’s hit some people harder than others. Some people are overworked while others are out of work. Medical personnel on the front lines are at risk. Many people are working from home and at the same time trying to monitor and encourage their kids’ schoolwork. Extraverts may be frustrated and bored. Most people are affected financially, and we know already that Covid-19 is causing a world-wide economic crisis that may take years to recover from.

What can we do?

We have this wonderful communication system called the internet, and it’s hard to imagine how much worse everything would be without it.

With the internet, we can keep in touch although we’re physically isolated from each other. We can even have “face time.”

I am relatively fortunate because as a freelance editor, I’m used to working at home, alone, and I currently have work that keeps me busy. Also, there are specific editing and publishing skills I need to learn, and I can learn and practise these skills online.

Nevertheless, in the past two weeks I’ve seen that my mood can swing quickly from positive to negative.

I tell myself that even in the most dire situations, we can find opportunities. Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Holocaust camps, wrote that even when we have zero control over our circumstances, we can always choose how we respond to them. (See Frankl’s famous book Man’s Search for Meaning.)

Just now I was looking for Frankl’s book and couldn’t find it amongst my many hundreds of books. Yet as I saw long-forgotten titles and even a few books I’ve never gotten around to reading, I was filled with the sense of abundance and intellectual excitement that I always get when I’m surrounded by books. I think about how much wisdom, knowledge, and captivating stories are contained within all those covers, and I know I could be in quarantine for a long time without running out of stimulation.

That’s without even considering all the resources available online. I can take courses, take part in webinars, listen to artists (it’s amazing what artists are sharing for free; even symphony orchestras are performing), or follow a yoga workout.

Most of all, I’m thankful that I can go outside and run or ride my bike. Last week when the afternoons were so sunny and warm, I felt the irrepressible joy of spring. I knew that the burgeoning of life can’t be stopped, no matter what the coronavirus does to human beings. Nature doesn’t care; Nature will continue her cycles, and we can’t help but respond to the renewal of life that penetrates all of our senses.

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Happy about my first bike ride in months after getting my wrist cast off!

I have my down times, like everyone. There have been times in the past two weeks when I couldn’t adapt quickly enough; when I felt outraged at the freedoms that were being taken away, at the way my world was getting smaller. I felt a constriction in my chest, and a fear of what was still to come. I felt bad about the people worse off than me, especially older people who are more at risk and more likely to be completely alone. I had to cancel a trip to Toronto to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday. Now his party has been cancelled altogether.

This is a time of unprecedented events. It reminds us that no matter how much we plan ahead, and how hard we work, unforeseen and uncontrollable things can happen. Stability, orderliness, and a predictable future are illusory and temporary. What endures are the best qualities of the human spirit: the ability to adapt, solve problems, find joy, and care deeply for each other. Let’s all rise to this challenge.

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Sasamat Lake. Warm sun and beautiful outdoor places raise our spirits!

 

 

About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
This entry was posted in Commentary, Personal stories, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Life in the time of coronavirus

  1. pkadams says:

    You expressed my thoughts and feelings very well. I’m reading a book called Life as We knew It. Things are even worse in that story so it’s somehow comforting. Take care!

  2. Lorna Roberts says:

    Definitely a roller coaster, and even at this stage in life we can still be adaptable, learn new tricks so to speak, woof! Spring is arriving slowly. This morning I got after some weeds!! The periwinkle is persistent but, I will prevail! being kind to myself and others. being unkind to periwinkle : )

  3. Paola Tinari says:

    Really liked your outlook on this! Hope everyone in your family is safe and healthy! I’ve started running outside and I’m very blessed to have a good running trail behind my house.

    • Good to hear you are healthy and running, Paola! So far no one I’m close to has been affected, but I fear this will be getting worse. I know the situation in the US is bad, take extra good care of yourself!

  4. Lonely in Coquitlam says:

    You are so lucky to have physical fitness on your side. I am a 70 year old senior with extremely low mobility. Walking is painful and walking more only escalates my pain. So…what am I to do. Go out and sit on a park bench and stare at the scenery. I used to go to Granville Island – the one place in Vancouver where people would talk to strangers. I used to go to 2 or 3 Meetups a week but those have all fizzled and Meetup participants never did connect beyond the events –so that failed to generate a social network. I no longer work — so don’t even have that outlet. I am so lonely, here it is 1AM and I am surfing trying to find something ANYTHING to connect. I have leadership skills and would even do Zoom groups, or call other people on the phone….but I don’t know how to reach the people needed to get this to happen. I am also high risk — respiratory problems. IT IS BRUTAL. I live in the Tri-cities.

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