COVID-19 has changed many lives in the last few months, but not mine. As a freelance writer working from home, I don’t have to leave my house to earn a living. As for social interactions, my reclusive nature usually keeps me at a polite distance from most people save for family and a few friends.
A Pandemic Is Ranging But…
I live in a town outside Bucharest, in a residental neighborhood with a relatively low population density. Life here is as it has always been, only a bit quieter. We go out only for necessities, and that with a signed form, but one doesn’t feel a sense of fear or panic.
Even as I write this, a neighbor across the street is installing a new roof. Parents are taking sunny walks with their children. And there’s booming party music coming from someone’s garage.
While there is a certain sense of caution in the air, not everyone is maintaining a proper social distance. For most of the people here, the coronavirus seems like something that is happening to other people in other places. It’s hard to be afraid or even cautious when death is only a statistic or a news item.
For My Part…
The only thing I’ve had to give up is going to the city. I was in the habit of working in cafes one or two days a week. On weekends, I’d take long walks through a park some kilometers away or go to the cinema or exploring the city’s smaller museums. But I’ve been doing that quite a lot in the last few years, so staying home seems like a break from all that.
Also, I used to order groceries online as for the time being I prefer living without a car. These days everyone is ordering online, so it’s nearly impossible to find an open delivery interval. But the local supermarket is well stocked and while getting mangos or avocados or rucola these days seems a bit harder than usual, that’s again not much of an issue. Things are a bit different with the meat supply, I hear, but that’s not a problem for me… The perks of being a vegetarian?
Talking of Those Perks…
If we judge the world from the news headlines, it’s all shaking—the healthcare system, the economy, and everything in between. But it would not be an exaggeration to say that for me, some things actually got better since the “coronavirus crisis.” Here’s what I mean…
- After 20-something years on earth, I have finally learned how to wash my hands properly.
- I read more than before because I have more time.
- I meditate more because it’s a calming thing to do in times such as these.
- I eat moderate portions because I’d rather not stock on food or go to the supermarket too often. I’m not a big eater—if you’d see me, you’d think that I don’t eat enough. But still, now I eat one squre of dark chocolate instead of two and go a bit less extravangant with the granola bars and other snacks. I find that avoiding having an overly full stomach is good for one’s mood.
- I’m saving money now on things like public transport, eating out, and all those small expenses that come with spending hours every week in a city.
- I get to spend more time with my mother now that she’s no longer going to work for the time being. That means putting up with a fair dose of nagging but still…
- The pandemic has overridden romantic mishaps that otherwise would have weighed on my heart. Now, when many people are dying and many more are suffering, not getting a date or two doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
- I feel a sense of gratitude for living where I live and having what I have. In this feeling, there is a quiet happiness, different from the loud and epheral happiness of pleasures fulfilled.
But Things Can Change…
I know that things can change at any moment. That an innocent sneeze from someone in line at the supermarket could spell trouble. That a single case in the environs could affect us all. That mother and grandmother are quite at risk.
Still, I believe there are quite a few of us who, while concerned about the general state of things, have not seen their lives disrupted much because of the COVID-19, even if we live in countries with thousands of confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths. I’m speaking about writers, artists, philosophers, modern-day Waldens, reclusives, monastics, and the like.
Of course, we all live in an interconnected world and we will feel the impact of the pandemic in one way or another. Some of us may lose loved ones or find our own existence challenged in many ways. Even if we don’t fall sick, most of us will likely have to change old habits like travel or working in public places–at least for a time.
It’s easy for media outlets to use big words like crisis or inferno and focus on the drama and the negatives. But many of us are going on with life in our quiet way feeling the ground under our feet as solid as ever.
A Time to Be Still
Staying home comes easier for some of us than for others, I grant that. But stopping and sitting still is not a prison sentence but an opporutunity. When an animal in the forest is sick or wounded, it will find a quiet place under the trees and lie there until it feels better.
We have been like that once. But lying still is a habit that most of us have lost. We may not be sick or wounded physically, but most of us carry physiological wounds or unhealthy ideas about happiness.
This is an opportunity to lie still while the tumult around, far-off or near, settles. If you’ve not been reading enough books before, now you can read them. If you’ve not been resting enough before, now you can. If you’ve not been considering your path in life deeply enough, now you can…