Over the past couple of months, specifically the last two weeks we have seen a virus spread across the globe like wildfire, we are far from the peak of this outbreak and over the coming weeks things are set to get much worse. People are rightly scared, the uncertainty of this illness is creating panic and chaos not only in the world around us but within ourselves too, causing anxiety to run rife. Coronavirus or COVOID-19 is a name we have heard with relentless, repetitious vigour on every news outlet, seen every time we venture on to social media pages, it is mentioned in each email we open. It feels like there is no way to bypass the barrage of information. Everyone you see has something to say, an input, a conspiracy or a prediction. The truth is, none of us really know how this will pan out, we do not know the longevity of the mania or what the consequences from it will be over the months or years to come. There is a sense of being helpless to the cause and so we all wait, deers in headlights, to see what will be.
I was wondering today, if in years to come when this is a distant memory, if schools will study the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, making it an epoch of our time, reading about the havoc we witnessed in text books, articles accompanied by haunting photos of sparse toilet roll shelves in Tesco. Them, safe in their classrooms, protected by the immunity they now surely hold and the knowledge that the essentials aisles in supermarkets are thankfully, fully stocked. When those students do study this worldwide hysteria, it will mention the science behind the virus, it will give them numbers and statistics and figures about deaths and contamination and speed of the spread. It will tell them how most of the world was on lock down with their borders closed to travelers, meaning many people were unable to get home, holidays were cancelled and events postponed. That those countries insisted that the inhabitants go in to isolation, many cities enforcing weeks or months of confinement. Yes, I am sure they will discover all of this and more and they will wonder how we coped with it. I hope that along with all that heartbreak, they will learn that during this horrible experience we were strong and above all that we were kind. In-between those illicit and occasional selfish acts there was a sense of ineffable support and love between communities, neighbors and friends reaching out to help each other, showing genuine compassion.
Blocks of flats singing to neighbours from balconies so that people quarantined alone didn’t feel lonely. Supermarkets opening an hour early for the elderly. Radio stations playing you’ll never walk alone on repeat. Cafes offering free food and drinks to the NHS staff who had become our heroes. Communities getting to know each other and offering those in solitude a friendly phone call, Skype chat or taking them necessities. Sending letters to retirement homes. Free online fitness classes. Showing the world we care and we are right here!
Let’s not allow this saga to be remembered only for the sadness and fear.
Despite countries on lock down and many friends and family members being thousands of miles apart, separated by bricks, mortar and sadly by oceans too. We somehow feel more connected and closer than we ever have before. That the restrictions don’t matter as much because we are aware of the scale of this and know that each and every person understands and are, for once, thinking as one. While I am not saying I am in any way enjoying this outbreak, there is some kind of serendipity to the events that have happened since it began. The outreach of kindness is uplifting. One day many of us might even be able to look back and giggle at the sheer madness that we were party to. Fist fights over baked beans, worldwide shortage of hand sanitizer and half of the population having enough loo roll piled up in the garage to see them in to the next decade. We might be able to smile at the unity we observed and the generosity seen across the globe.
Until then all we are really able to do is ensure we are physically and mentally healthy while it runs it’s course. Try and focus on the positives. Help a stranger in need whenever you can and keep smiling.
You may be in isolation but you are not alone. We’re all in this together.
(insert high school musical soundtrack)