The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that is to be taken extremely seriously. It is probably obvious to most people now that methods like washing your hands frequently and extreme social distancing are essential for slowing down the spread of the virus. These precautions are essential, and I always advise to keep up to date with what the experts are saying.
There is, however, a difference between taking a situation seriously and taking it to heart. One involves rational decision-making and realising that you have a responsibility to play your part in something that is bigger than yourself, the other involves wallowing in self-pity because you can’t go to the cinema for the foreseeable future.
Not going to the cinema sucks, not going to the pub with your friends sucks, having a holiday cancelled really sucks but there is not much to be done about it. Nobody knows how long this virus will persist and how long social restrictions will be imposed for so there are two options that I see:
- Start to look for the positives that have and are coming out of this terrible situation
- Perpetuate the feelings of doom, isolation and hopelessness every day until it stops
Number two is a tempting scenario and its weirdly satisfying to do from time to time, but a more sustainable and healthy approach would definitely be scenario one. Here are a few of the positives to embrace during the Coronavirus…
Time to reset and reconnect
Time away from large social events, sports and other forms of entertainment are the prime opportunities to reconnect with ourselves and those that are closest to us.
When it comes to ourselves, this time of social distancing might be the ideal time to re-ignite your love for painting, running or building giant LEGO sets. It is also a good time to reflect on where you are in your life, what you are doing well and what you might want to do better in the future. These strange times have granted us a bit of much-needed space to pause and reflect.
It is also the perfect opportunity to reconnect and have some fun with your closest friends and family. Maybe you don’t speak to them that much, maybe you will start talking to your wife again and realise that she has been made redundant from Blockbusters. Whatever your situation, now is the right time to spend more time with loved ones than you otherwise would have.
During difficult times, there are always those people who rise up to the occasion. There is plenty of doom of gloom, but it is also well worth promoting these people and organisations to the forefront of the media whenever possible.
You might not see them but during this crisis, there are thousands of people committing amazing acts of heroism without your knowledge. Somebody is checking up on the elderly in your community. Somebody is bringing in groceries for those who are self-isolating. Somebody is being brave and putting their own plans on hold for the good of people that they don’t even know.
On a larger scale, sports stars, sports teams and even countries are collaborating with each other and helping one an another out during this time of human crisis. This Coronavirus brings out the dark in some people but the light in many, many others.
Whether you live in a giant metropolis or an oasis in the country, it is likely that you have noticed the streets, roads and neighbourhoods around you to be at least just a little bit quieter and more peaceful than usual. Right now, there is a certain charm and bit of magic to the usually bustling city streets that have been emptied of most of their people.
This situation reminds of the term ‘Kenopsia‘, coined by the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
kenopsia, n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
The eerily quiet places of empty football stadiums that are usually alive on a Saturday, school playgrounds that are empty on a Tuesday lunchtime, concert halls where you can hear a pin drop. There is an ineffable, haunting charm about all of this, and we should take note – maybe even enjoy it – while it lasts.
A global deep breath
It isn’t just us that gets to take a giant deep breath after being alleviated from some of our day-to-day responsibilities. Giant corporations, production lines, air travel and the like have grounded to somewhat of a halt. With this human tragedy taking place in every corner of the world, the Earth is finally getting a chance to catch its breath.
It is claimed that the Coronavirus may have saved around 77,000 lives because of the lockdown in China that dramatically reduced air pollution. The dramatic reduction in pollution in Italy can also be seen from space.
Who knows? Once this terrorising disease finally subsides, we might realise that we’re okay without so much heavy industry. Or at least, that there might be a better way to do things when the time comes to re-evaluate the situation. The world will never be the same after the so-called Coronavirus, let’s hope that we help to make sure that it is better.
Life is tough. Life is unpredictable. Life can get in the way of your plans. And life can whisk you away into some dark places if you let it. Perhaps the biggest quality that we need to adopt in these times of trouble is that of acceptance.
Acceptance is the only effective way to deal with life when shit hits the fan. As Carl Jung once said, “that which you resist, persists.” Worrying about the pandemic and resisting its effects will only make it worse for you and everyone else around you.
The Stoics also had many teachings on the effectiveness of acceptance, and this is one that particularly applies to this situation:
At any moment your circumstances could take a turn for the worst. This you cannot control, but you can control your mind, and your attitude. Nothing has the ability to harass you without your permission.
Now more than ever, we all need to accept what is in our control and what is not. Do your part, save the worrying and while you’re at it, take a moment to look for all of the silver linings.