During my personal coronavirus moment, I’m learning that I’m resilient. That if I let myself move through the emotional waves around me, my feet still touch the ground. Bend, flow, be connected, even if socially-distanced. I can lift up and fly, above all the chaos, the constraints, upwards to go where I want to go – live how I want to live. And be moved by so many human acts of love and connectivity – while we remain arms-length apart.
As you may already know, I work from home and have since 2010. You may not know I am currently in Italy, near Rome. I live a fairly remote lifestyle in the countryside when I’m here. The little Italian town I live near, a farm or two over, had no incidences of the virus until days ago. I hear a family is in isolation. Maybe three families. News like this is hard to confirm and it could even be gossip. But it’s changing how I feel. I was in a safe bubble. I am still but it just shrunk. News here says 80% of people will get infected by the time it’s all over.
Let me back up, to give you a sense of what it’s felt like. I’ve been in Italy since the holidays when coronavirus first happened in Wuhan, China. It all seemed so far away then, only a glimmer of news. But upon learning how it had spread to northern Italy, I felt a tsunami of fear and claustrophobia. The TV news was updating with bigger and bigger numbers in the Lombardia region, showing coronavirus spreading.
I was not alone in that moment. But suddenly I felt very alone, floating in an invisible padding of panic with an inevitable implosion. It became a mental panic vice on my head, squeezing and inciting adrenaline, with nowhere for me to run. Panic, fear of no way out, that claustrophobia and sense of doom. That feeling you have in the pit of your stomach watching a movie scene where someone is slipping into quicksand but this time it’s you. Is this similar to those who learn of a world war, or regional war?
Tough Decision: Stay or Go
I really had to sedate myself that night and, being honest, a few other nights since then. Escaping to the US occurred to me, but I couldn’t abandon loved ones here. Was I weak for considering that option, one most here do not have? Choosing to stay gave me a release on the vice and the rampant running of adrenaline. It gave me a sense of control and purpose. Do what I can, from here, for now.
Obviously, if I go ‘home’ to California to help my senior parents, I will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Could I even be a carrier? Do I want to risk it? At this moment, they seem OK, so I remain where I am. But my heart weeps for anyone separated from dear loved ones. I’ve seen both horror stories and others of love in the last few weeks. I bet we will all see them.
So here I am. Depending upon where you are, perhaps I’m ahead of the curve you are yourself facing. It’s a bit of a dark day for most of us, isn’t it, generally? Like we’re playing out some epic blockbuster movie. There will be death and destruction… and heroes.
Aside from the doctors and valiant others involved to heal and keep our world turning in the right direction, I want to shine a light on some other heroes. The Italian people are known stereotypically to have strong emotions worn on their sleeves, dynamic with love and anger. I’ve always admired this. In these recent days of #StayStrongItaly, #TuttoAndraBene (everything will be all right), #IoRestoACasa (I stay at home), Italy has shown its beautiful colors. Through social and other media, they have joined together while distanced, singing and holding lights from balconies and windows at a precise day and hour, spreading hope and love. It brought tears of hope, love and decency to my eyes, and encouragement to my heart.
Surviving and Thriving
I have always been known as a strong woman, brave, full of life, energy and intelligence. It’s a nice reputation that I’ve been happy to have. But I have to admit, I’m also vulnerable, a little bit scared, and hopeful.
I go outside when possible and hope you can go outside too, even if it’s a balcony or a windowsill. It’s healing when the sun shines on your face. And maybe you can see the trees blossoming regardless of our virus, rebirthing in their annual mockery of wintery death. I am thankful for so much. Smiles, floral perfume, then fruit and marmalade will come from the blossoms. We are resilient, like a flowering tree.
Be the hero in your own life. Find your light and share it during these darker fearful days. Loosen the vice of fear, open your emotional heart, and for the sake of humanity – share your love.
Will this end? Or simply become a seasonal incident? When we look back at this, will it be with pride in our response? I don’t know. But at 6pm tonight, I might just sing. Even if no one can hear me from their balcony.