Yes, I feel thankful for the pandemic

Slowing down, regrouping, rethinking, and embracing naps

Don’t hate me, but I miss lockdown. It made me more me.

As a writer, I work from home. I was already in a bubble of isolation because of my work, and because of my nature. Things have slowed down though, since I have dealt with my three kids’ anxiety and school refusal for I don’t even know how long now. 

I like life slower. It is not just because I like empty stores where no one ever bumps into my cart, or traffic-free streets; I like that people stopped, for a moment, and took stock.

When the province announced school closure, and COVID-19 seemed like something that happened to other people far away, I breathed a sigh of relief. Other parents experienced the shock of suddenly having to adjust to remote work while unexpectedly having to entertain and school their children. Their burden released me. My kids were already at home; I stopped feeling the all-day, every day drain of overwhelming guilt.

Thankfulness comes in ways we do not expect. Even with my sense of relief, I joined many others—or, more accurately, they joined me, a confirmed napper from way back—in a collective hibernation. It began in April or May, after the burst of energy that resisted the loneliness of lockdown with people singing from balconies, creating virtual activity groups (mine was a house cleaning challenge), subscribing to Rosetta Stone to learn that language that always intrigued us (does anyone else speak Irish now? What? Me neither). I am grateful for the resilient spirit that rises out of adversity. I feel the tragedy, but I am not writing about that. This is a record of gratitude.

Gradually, we sort of went to sleep. For some of us, it was literal (see reference to napping, above). For others, life just got a little bit quieter. Sometimes that silence simmered into something sinister. Some people, unable to face themselves stripped of whatever used to help them soften the edge of imperfect humanity, became angry. Domestic violence increased. We all mused about that, for a bit. Mostly though, we were all confronted with ourselves, and our relationships with others. Even at the thought of negativity, we related back to our own lives, and then to our place in society and what we want society to be like.

We were confronted with the dark reality of our mortality in at least one unexpected way by considering the fate of vulnerable people as we watched outbreaks decimate our elderly in care homes. “How fragile our lives are,” we realized. It’s too soon to tell if we will go back to sleep on that issue, but younger generations have seen our possible future, and we are afraid. 

We transferred our own vulnerability onto the fate of George Floyd. That made us sit upright in our beds and gasp in dismay. Then we got out of bed, alright, for a while.

We cannot know what life with COVID-19 will be like (there will never be life “after” COVID-19). We are changed forever. Part of the change, though, has been a collective existential quandary that will shape our futures. 

From out of the fear and uncertainty, I can say that I am grateful for the global pause we have been forced to take. It began with lockdown. I hope we all remember what we awoke to during this time.


Featured Image: Sometimes thankfulness can come from unexpected circumstances. | Alfonso Cerezo from Pixabay

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