Challenging Times

I've decided to keep a diary, of sorts, as we all go through the coronavirus episode that is likely to define this year, and possibly alter the years that follow it.

Like so many others I really didn't take the news too seriously at first. On Thursday 12th I was still wondering what, if anything, to do. To be safe I decided to ask my counseling clients to contact me only by using Zoom and on Friday 13th I began to do that. By the end of the day, after scanning the news for far too long, it felt as if the coin dropped. I was detecting signs of near-panic in some quarters. The toilet paper scramble was one that confused me and many others. This was, for some, the day one might call the tipping point.

On Saturday I could feel the mood deepen. The traffic was scant, the aircraft overhead were no longer as plentiful. People were canceling social gatherings -- much to everyone’s relief. It was quiet in ways I hadn’t experienced for some years.

Sunday was quieter than any Sunday has a right to be, and Monday was comparable only to the time immediately post 9-11.

Which brings me to today. I’ve been trying to fathom the energy, the mood of my little town. There seems to be a sense of determined resignation. The US Government obviously isn’t going to do anything for us, so we’ll have to sort this one out ourselves. My grandchildren are not going to school, but are playing with each other – no play dates. They are making their own entertainment. 

All of which adds up to my sense that some of us, at least, are finding some positive aspects in all this. Parents can’t go in to work, so they have to stay with their children. Shops are closed so there’s less rushing about to sales and special events. Stock markets have tumbled, so there appears to be a reluctance by some people to spend money, and this makes for a calmer atmosphere. We are being asked to slow down, and so far it feels like a welcome break, in some ways.

One of my clients put it beautifully – it’s like an unscheduled spiritual retreat, he said.

The question is -- can we use this time well? Can we move beyond our ingrained habits of consuming?  Can we learn to be mindful of what we buy, how we eat, and what we do?