I’ve been a bit of an insomniac lately. Possibly because my life, like the lives of most citizens of the world, has been turned upside down by this pandemic. Nondescript days flow into nights of wondering how it got dark so fast or not fast enough.
Without schedules and plans, the days go by and everyone seems confused about what day it actually is. Unfortunately, sleep only provides a short respite for some of us. We wake up in the middle of the night as if we were night watchmen taking care of the rest of the world by merely being vigilant and awake.
In the Beginning There Was a Sense of Purpose
The “we’re doing this together” motto we heard in the beginning of the pandemic was motivating. We’re working together to flatten the curve – a courageous and worthy purpose for us all. I, for one, fervently wanted and still want to contribute to that lofty goal.
I’ve been “sheltering in place,” and slowly but surely discovering a new life for myself since March 11th – a date I can’t possibly forget. Living on my own with my dog and two cats, I felt brave and fearless. “We’re going to beat this thing,” I told myself and we’re doing it “together.”
Our Activities and Creativity Were in Full Swing the First Four Months
We took care of our homes. We cooked. We baked up a storm. We tended to our gardens and plants. As the days passed, we spoke on the phone endlessly with family and friends. We contacted people we hadn’t seen or heard from in ages.
We learned to use Zoom and listened to our kids’ accounts of what was going on with them and their children. We admired our kids’ strength and resilience dealing with homes filled with restless kids and pets.
All of a sudden, they also had to supervise our grandchildren’s schooling, which certainly was not everybody’s favorite activity. For some of us, home is home and school is school, and never the twain shall meet. Well, now the twain had to meet. We spoke to our grandchildren and entertained them with book readings, little songs, and art classes.
We started new activities and remembered old ones. We did our own manicures, and some were brave enough to cut their own hair. We knitted, crocheted, painted, and took art classes on the Internet.
Our closets got Mari Kondoed, our kitchen cabinets were tidy for the first time in a long time. Our creativity in cooking pantry-based meals inspired a million recipes everywhere, and home-baked Sourdough Bread became the bread “du jour.”
We saw planes flying overhead in honor of healthcare workers, our newly found superheroes. We saw entire countries shutting down and wondered if we were next. Many new heroes entered our lives.
Who would have thought that we would wait with bated breath for a word from distinguished physician and immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, or news briefings from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, to reassure us that we were doing the right thing?
They showed knowledge and compassion. A heady combination for the rest of us stuck at home.
Being a Couch Potato Became a Fine Art
We watched on TV and the Internet wonderful free programs from enormously talented people. They made us laugh, cry, and reminded us that the arts were still there, where we had left them, only now they came directly into our TV sets and computers at home.
We watched Andrea Bocelli sing for us from the Duomo, we saw Alvin Ailey dancers perform just for us. We enjoyed favorite actors, musicians, dancers, comedians performing from their homes especially for us in our homes.
We even got to see Hamilton on TV which I doubt would have happened any time soon in “normal times” when scoring a ticket for this magnificent play was next to impossible.
Restlessness Is Dangerous – The Condensed Version
Then the states started loosening up and so did the people who began taking risks – not wearing masks and not keeping a safe distance from each other.
We saw demonstrators on the streets of every major city in the world protesting the murder of a helpless black man by the police. The images of large gatherings and rallies with maskless people standing inches away from each other were disturbing to those of us at home.
The economy had become the thing to save and rebuild while so many people were mourning the loss of loved ones to this nasty virus. People losing jobs, trying to make ends meet with families to support.
In Miami, where I live, beaches opened, parks welcomed people again, and everyone quickly forgot the rules of masks and social distance. Business, as usual, is what everybody had in mind.
Covid Rages Again
So, after four months of isolation, we see numbers going through the roof in Florida and many other parts of the country. Like we were warned, the virus never left; in fact, experts say that it was just beginning.
We were warned and some didn’t listen. States are backtracking and worse, some are not even backtracking. It’s up to us to tame this beast by doing what we learned in the first four months.
What to Do Next?
Our mantra should continue to be “wear a mask, wash our hands, maintain social distance.” We must take care of ourselves and listen to the health experts and not to politicians playing “doctor” on TV.
So, let’s take that course, read that book, bake that bread, and more than anything else, encourage each other throughout. We can flatten the curve but only if we set the example and really, truly, do it together. We need to set the example one more time.
We’re better at all of the things that we did the first four months. Let’s do them all again and look forward to the day when we can breathe easier, sleep better, and be together with our loved ones again.
What are you doing day to day to flatten the curve of this deadly virus? How are you coping with this extended period of isolation? I know it isn’t easy, so let’s have a chat and encourage one another.
This article originally appeared in Sixty and Me.