Amidst the suffering that the Covid-19 virus has brought upon so many of us, I have been quietly grateful for the gifts this time has given me. I feel something akin to survivor’s guilt because neither I nor my loved ones have contracted Coronavirus or lost our jobs. The toll indeed has been steep for our world. The news reports’ death toll statistics and shuttered storefronts are sad evidence of this. Yet some benefits have also arisen.
All of us have been forced to slow down. There simply are not as many things open during the pandemic. For most of us, our workflow has slowed, at least somewhat. I am an attorney, and the courts were closed for weeks. Now, most hearings are conducted online. Clients were hesitant to spend money, so all but essential work projects were suspended. Any work that could be conducted remotely was allowed by most employers to be done at home. I did not have to go into the office or to client meetings. I have less commuting time and more downtime. In fact, I go out of my house, for any reason, a lot less right now.
As a result of doing less, perhaps FOMO has diminished for many of us. And we are saving money because there are fewer opportunities to spend it on travel, eating out or other activities. I had no need to fill my gas tank for weeks.
Anything we do with other people during this time increases our exposure risk. So I am much more intentional about how and with whom I spend my time. If I am going to see anyone, I realize that my time is best spent with those who lift me up and help me to become my best version. Otherwise, why take the health risk?
With increased risk when going out of our homes, we are noticing how many fewer things we really need. Most people limited trips to the grocery or other stores. I have become more creative with pantry ingredients I have on hand because I prefer to make fewer grocery shopping trips.
We have learned new skills. How many of us had ever heard of Zoom pre-pandemic? Who was able to work at home before quarantining began? How many of us tried new recipes? Who tried baking bread, preserving or canning for the first time? Many parents had to learn how to home school their children. Home improvement stores enjoyed huge booms in sales. Long-neglected home projects received attention. Closets got organized. Home offices were built or carved from existing space. We all found new and creative ways of doing what we needed to do.
I so enjoyed hearing about new ways people learned to keep in touch with their family members. Zoom meetings mushroomed among geographically dispersed family members. Online game nights took off. I started a weekly Zoom meeting with my best friends who lived across the country from me. We had not been in as close and regular touch with one another since the 1980s! It has been lovely being in close touch once again with my favourite people in the world.
Many more people took up walking. Never have I seen so many of my neighbours outside. Perhaps it was due to cabin fever. Perhaps we all took to walking because all the gyms were closed. In any event, it fostered more of a community feeling and encouraged people to join the walking trend. Although some people gained weight while quarantined, others lost weight as the result of taking up walking. I discovered so many lovely things in my neighbourhood, like beautiful gardens, when on walks. I checked in with neighbours who live alone.
There emerged a widespread feeling that we were all in this fight together. No country was unscathed by this virus. Everyone got masks. Many people made masks for others. Masks became a way of expressing personality, humour, creativity, and even political and other messages.
So this roller coaster of 2020 has not been all bad. People helped each other. We got on with less. The environment showed signs of recovery. We noticed what mattered most to us. Maybe now we all will appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we do not have. Let’s reframe this year as the year our gratitude awakened for our many blessings that we previously may have taken for granted starting with, perhaps, our health.