Five months ago I was counselled to keep a COVID19 journal. This is truly an unique time in which we are living; one about which our grandchildren will want to interview us. What will we tell them?
First: I thought it would all be over much sooner. Without giving it any serious or scientific thought, I expected an intense period of deprivation (i.e. “don’t leave your house”) followed by a return of life-as-I-knew-it. It has taken me this long to realize that there will be no imminent return to “normal life” and we must, collectively, develop a “new normal.” I wanted COVID to go away and instead I need to find a way to live with it.
In a tangible sense, COVID’s largest effect on my life has been to keep me away from the gym. That was a daily part of my routine that energized me, made me feel good about myself, and provided social interaction. … The removal of social interaction, of course, being the largest psychological effect of COVID. I recently declined an invitation to a friend’s wedding, for instance, because it just wouldn’t be any fun with masks and social-distancing. Oh, how I hate that that phrase – “social-distancing” – has become part of our lexicon! To love and interact with my community through the obscurant prophylactics of masks and distance is like the difference between reading a fifth-grader’s account of his trip to the Grand Canyon and visiting the Canyon in person. Reading faces has become much more difficult. And touch – how I miss touching people! As any massage therapist will tell you, touch is a language, too – so far as it is a method of communication. Touch communicates what words cannot. In the COVID era, it is as though a limb has been removed, as though I am crippled, going about life with cotton in my ears or dark sunglasses indoors.
Which is not a cheery face to put on the topic, I apologize. Perhaps it will help me to conceptualize this time as akin to one of my prolonged fasts. I get hungry during my fasts, but it’s OK; fasts provide a chance to meet my hunger and make peace with it. COVID gives me a chance to learn about and value what has temporarily been taken out of my life. Let me feel the absence of my fellow man and learn what it can teach me about myself. And let me remember, as my grandmother of 94 years’ life experience can attest, “This too shall pass.”