A More Hopeful Spring

I’ve been reminiscing … reflecting …

It was about a year and a half ago that I started on this writing journey of mine, but it wasn’t until February 20, 2020 (it looks really cool when you write it as 02-20-2020) that I published my first piece on Medium. I was having fun writing stories, poetry, essays, and what I called “bloggy” posts on a variety of topics, finding my way as I integrated a writing regimen into my normal routine.

The variety and normal routine parts didn’t last long. Beginning on March 22 and lasting through May 22 (yes, it really was that exact and had those 2s again), the majority of my writing was about – you guessed it – the worldwide pandemic. I had very little extra energy to be creative with words; most of those juices were being used to make everyday decisions about new ways of living.

I thought I would share (or re-share for some of you) those words from my first piece since it helps me remember. Maybe it will help you to look back, too, and ponder how far we have come. We are not out of the woods yet, and many people are still experiencing loss and grief, but it encourages me that, with this new spring, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Corona Thoughts, Just Can’t Help It

This article is a little off of the writing journey topic. Except for the fact that I am writing it, and the journey we are all on together, not just as a nation, but as a global community, is affecting all of our journeys in oh so many ways.

So much has happened over the last two weeks since I started this bloggy venture. While the COVID-19 threat is front and foremost everywhere we look — or don’t look — the last thing I have wanted to do is write about it. Writing about other stuff (mostly poetically) has served as a distraction from the constant bombardment of unsettling scenarios.

I did, however, think about writing a corona-related piece. I recently received an email from Medium saying that they are accepting submissions for articles having to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and have “removed the paywall” for any that they curate. In other words, all such articles are free to the public; no membership required.

While still in the process of considering whether or not to write something on the unwanted topic of the day, I read another writer’s very viral article this morning. It was, as one would expect, sobering. It is a sobering time. The article discussed, in no uncertain terms, the need to do the math and take action now, a sentiment I am in complete agreement with, so I started to write a response to encourage the author and thank him for his thoughts. In the process, I discovered a number of vitriolic comments from other readers. Since this is very uncharacteristic of the Medium community, I assumed that the response section was also open to any and all, including some not very nice people. I decided to delete my response. One thing I definitely don’t need right now is to be publicly attacked for thanking someone for trying to save lives.

Interestingly, my deleted comment contained observations that were in complete contrast to the rudeness I saw. Apart from news of frantic runs on toilet paper and other fear-based hoarding episodes, I have noticed that people, in general, have been unusually friendly. At least in my real-life community. I have had more interactions than ever with my neighbors, physically social distancing but lingering outdoors and conversing for longer periods of time. When walking in the neighborhood, even though it is obvious that I am intentionally stepping off the sidewalk and into the street when passing fellow walkers, I have noticed more people who are eager to make eye contact and say hello. When I made a Target run yesterday and covered my face with my makeshift mask — actually a bright green bandana that made me look like I was there to rob the store (saving the real masks for the medical personnel!) — I didn’t get any stares. People get it, some more than others, but everyone knows what’s up. I ended up chatting with the cashier at the in-store Starbucks (yes, they are still open here in Virginia … for now) from a safe distance and more freely than usual. People want to connect. I want to connect.

As a side note, I did remove my bandana when conversing from at least 6 feet away since there was no one else around, and my purpose for wearing it was to encourage other people (the ones who don’t get it quite as well yet) to please keep their distance from moi.

And, as a second side note, even though the Starbucks worker was very nice and told me the employees were washing their hands frequently, I did wait until I got home to drink my latte, where I removed the lid and washed it with soap and water. Some people may call that excessive, but when someone puts a lid on my cup with their bare hands and touches the very spot where my mouth will be, I feel it is a pretty reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. She was a nice person, though. And I would rank these as extraordinary times.

I’m sure that there are many contributing factors to my new, more neighborly, experience (the slower pace of life, extra time, and a desire to get out of the house), but my hunch is that the main thing many of us are looking for is camaraderie — solidarity in the midst of life-as-we-know-it disrupting days, weeks, possibly months. A call for physical distance has somehow made room for a decrease in social distance. Connecting with others makes us feel we are not alone. It calms our fears, even if just a little, knowing that our neighbors are in the same situation that we are. And not just those we see when we open our doors, but, thanks to social media and the internet, those with whom we find and offer camaraderie all across the globe.

While this pandemic looms in all of our minds and forces us to radically adjust our lifestyles, the small glimpses of human kindness I am observing give me hope. I am hopeful that, if-slash-when we reach a true crisis level and hear that one of our neighbors is in need, we will be willing to offer them our last roll of toilet paper, or better yet, our sincere and loving care and support.

I still can’t help having corona thoughts, and they continue to affect my daily life, but they have ceased to hover over every action and decision. I am no longer concerned about running out of that modern convenience called toilet paper (we could have survived without it, by the way), there is an abundance of hand sanitizer on the shelves (I am still using the bottle I bought almost a year ago), and I don’t try to limit my grocery store runs (nor do I wipe down my groceries or my Starbucks lids).

I have also been confirmed in what I believe is a common-sense opinion that masks work both ways, and it was good to require them. You may disagree, and that’s okay, but I hope you won’t disagree like the people in the responses to the Medium article I referred to. It was rare for me even to read such an article since I was trying to maintain my sanity, but I remember thinking that this one contained common sense ways to move forward. At the time, it seemed like the best way to go since the experts (and way too many pseudo-experts) were not in a place to share anything more than their expert opinions. No one had access to many facts at the time. The virus was novel, after all.  

I know I am not alone when I say that I am feeling hopeful. Most of my family members have been or will soon be vaccinated. I know there are disagreements on this topic, too, and that is also okay. Yes, it is okay to disagree and to do so amicably. Personally, I sincerely thank the experts who have gotten us this far. Even amidst all of the divided opinions on the virus itself and all of the other rifts and divisions in our world today, I am still amazed that a dangerous microscopic spike-ball could make us feel such a global bond of shared human experience. I find it helpful to remember that and can’t help wishing that we had a vaccine for hatred, animosity, and strife.

Oh, wait, we do. It’s called love.

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