We are publishing submissions about the COVID-19 crisis from readers daily on NewPhilosopher.com in the hope that it can help us all make sense of what is happening, and as a historical record of how it made us feel. Here are your thoughts, from around the world.
By Michelle Vassallo, Australia
I’ve been watching and waiting to see where things in the world would head these last few weeks and the words of Bob Dylans’ prophetic 1963 song keep ringing around and around in my head:
“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’”
I don’t think I could have said it better myself.
Today I had what I would call a ‘freak out’. The world as I know it has changed forever. I know that things are always changing and that they continue to do so on a daily basis – all over the world – but the truth is that this one is a monumental shift – we are bearing witness as a global community to a world that is tumbling off its precipice and heading into the great unknown. Mostly I have been okay – but today the reality of what we, the whole of humanity faces truly hit home. Our fragile and vulnerable existence highlighted and debunked.
The uncertainty surrounding every aspect of what we would call ‘normal life’ permeates and pervades our waking hours non-stop. We are facing the most enormous and potentially frightening challenge we have ever faced as a collective, every aspect of our lives affected. I am not saying that in the long run this won’t be for the overall benefit of humanity as we learn to renegotiate life as we know it – becoming more resourceful, conscious and less wasteful – being able to make do with what we have instead of constantly longing to fill a hole inside ourselves that can never be sated by material possessions, but like all change it is going to hurt.
However today was a day of sadness.
I get that we need to make changes as a race, I am totally on board with finding a new way to conduct ourselves on this planet for the betterment of not only ourselves but future generations as well. I understand that often the best that we have to offer each other of ourselves is borne from adversity and hardship. And I know that we need to evolve to become far better version of ourselves than we have seen so far.
And yet today I mourn the loss of physical connection as we learn to practice ‘social distancing’, a term I had not even heard of until recently. It is a very sad fact that when we need each other most we are forced through circumstances to remain physically distant. I mourn for all the people who don’t know how they are going to meet their monthly repayments and obligations let alone feed and clothe their children. I mourn the desperation of people in need. I know that the social isolation and job losses of many will lead to incredible anxiety, mental illness and fear. I mourn for the families that will lose loved ones. Yes, we need to step up and do better, but I would be dishonouring myself if I didn’t also own how much this is hurting me and all of us. The processing of this must be experienced even as we strive towards a new version of life.
Where we go from here is up to us, but I do know that we need to make what we do from here count, every one of us.
For myself I am going to be applying two very simple things that I have long known and used as rules to live by. Now more than ever before I really need to think about what they both mean and make sure that they are no longer theoretical concepts that I employ in times of duress, but visceral understandings that I utilise in every aspect of my life.
The first of those is from a song that my dad used to sing all the time as I was growing up “One day at a time”. Right now, I absolutely have to remember that every morning, one day at a time. Be here, now. Be present like you never have been before. Be able to suspend the old order of things and endeavour to forge and embrace a new way of living, because the truth is that not only is it better for us as a collective, but we have no choice. The old world is over.
The second comes from my husband and he said it to me on our first date and I have remembered those words ever since – simple and yet once put into words the realisation dawned on me that they are the absolute truth about living, ‘Adapt and Improvise’. Now more than ever before in history we are being called upon to do just that.
We are being called to action, to stand united and make a better world than the one we find ourselves floundering in. We start with ourselves. I am going to be making changes to the way I do things and interact with the world at large; I know very well that I too have been caught up in the unsustainable busyness of life and slowing down will save me from myself. Not only that but it will show my children a better way of being and that will in turn change the world.
And so, today's sadness will inform my tomorrow – I will adapt and improvise and improve who I am, how I am and how I want to be for the long haul. And I will still mourn what has been lost, honouring my feelings and process while forging forward to a better world…one day at a time.