Kaye reflects on COVID-19

Joni Mitchell has a knack of saying in a few short words some very complicated and challenging things. One famous example is the use of her song, Both Sides Now, to exemplify the pain and confusion of Emma Thompson’s character Karen in Love Actually, when her husband walks away with a younger woman.

Right now, as coronavirus basically shuts down the globe, it’s Big Yellow Taxi that speaks volumes to me. Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got `til it’s gone? is rolling around and around in my brain.

There are little things and big ones too that I feel I’ve lost and am grieving.

A big one was visiting my mum in her aged care facility and watching her being wheeled back to her room, not knowing when I can see her face to face again. All power to her aged care residence as they have bought iPads and encourage family members to make Facetime calls. But it’s not the same as kissing and hugging her, that’s for sure.

A small loss, yet one that hurts, is my travel plans for this year – so many fun catch-ups both local and overseas are now on indefinite hold. Yes, I’m lucky to have ever had those plans in the first place and must learn not to mind that I won’t be enjoying these adventures. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me at least a little regretful.

Another loss is social interaction, observing people in my neighbourhood scurry down the street, some too scared to make eye contact or say hello. When did we become so scared?

To be fair, we are all in new territory, so it is fully understandable that we are afraid of this new reality. But it seems to have also introduced a new hyper-suspicion of each other, as many don masks even as they drive alone in their own car. What is that about, I wonder?

We are social creatures and born to be together, to communicate, often through touch. We were not created to ‘social distance’. But as we know, it is only by keeping our distance and following the rules that we can hasten the end of this isolation and get together once again.

In the meantime, social media seems to be saving our sanity. So many truly funny jokes and memes are circulating, so many inventive solutions to this long-term enforced home stay. And the establishment of many virtual communities sharing information and good humour along the way.

So what can you do to get through this challenging time, for who knows how long?

Some thoughts:

We all say we haven’t got time to do so much. Maybe you could recheck your New Year’s resolutions and think about what you hoped to achieve – now you may have the time to do some of these things.

Were you maybe going to be kinder? Well there are probably a lot of people you haven’t got around to calling for a while – why not reach out to see how they are doing?

Were you interested in brushing up on a skill or self-educating? Again, here’s the time you said you needed … just waiting for you to make it happen.

Perhaps it’s home handy work? Or gardening? Or cooking? Or sewing? Our generation is blessed to be the last where we were all taught the basics, so maybe now is the time to dust off these skills and start making or fixing things again.

And what about recording your story, your thoughts, your observations? Perhaps this means more time to delve into your family history. Or sort those bulging files of images of family gatherings and holidays? Creating and sharing a family photo album could be fun.

Maybe, like me, you have overstuffed cupboards, old paper clippings, greeting cards and far too many clothes you no longer wear. Well there’s nothing stopping us now from having a massive clean-up. And yes, the op shops are no longer taking donations, but sooner or later they will, and you’ll be ready to help them with goods for the people who really need them.

And on that point, for those with a roof over their heads and food in the fridge, it’s worth remembering not everyone is in this privileged position. How can we give something to those most in need right now?

It’s easy to be despondent when we don’t know how long this enforced isolation will last. Nor whether our loved ones will be safe. It’s a very tough time for everyone. But the one thing we can control is our own response to this crisis. And staying busy, optimistic and helpful to others sounds like a good start to me.

What about you? How are you managing your day-to-day activities while observing social distancing rules? Do you have any helpful hints?

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Written by Kaye Fallick

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