It feels absurd to be writing this post from the reality that is now. Just four weeks ago I was on holiday in Thailand enjoying time with my family. At the time the coronavirus was a faraway though. Fast forward to today and the coronavirus pandemic on everyone’s doorstep.
If someone had told me a month ago that my contacts all over the world would be practicing social distancing and avoiding going out in public spaces, I would have guffawed at the thought. But now, it’s our new normal. My calendar is empty for probably the first time in my life. I haven’t met anyone but my family for a week. A new kind of worry has emerged for our kid’s grandparents. When I read books where people meet up with their friends, I find myself thinking that their behaviour is careless and wrong.
Here in Finland kindergartens and grades 1-3 are still open but parents are urged to keep their children home if possible. Higher grades and other educational institutions have switched to online learning in lightning speed. As I write this, restaurants remain open but libraries, swimming halls and events have been closed or cancelled. Skiing resorts are closing voluntarily. Those who can, are asked to do their work from home. Gatherings or meetings of over ten people are forbidden.
Personally, I feel that the restrictions we have at the moment are not clear enough. Finland is not in lockdown mode yet and the government is giving people’s decisions a lot of faith. We are supposed to stay one meter away from each other but families are still frequenting the parks for play dates, sleepovers are being planned, teens hang out in large groups, elderly people enjoy coffees and company at the crowded beach cafes… Finns even flocked to the Nuuksio National Park in such numbers that the government authority in charge of the parks and forests had to make an announcement! Citizens were instructed to keep to the forests near their homes as it was impossible to keep a safe distance to others in the crowds at the National Park.
It’s scary what implications all this will have on our country, not to say the world. One week in, and businesses are already having to lay off people temporarily to try to avoid bankruptcy. How long will this go on for? Here, the restrictions are in place till the 13th of April (as of now) but for example, Estonia’s state of emergency is on till the 1st of May.
My family is doing fine in this situation and I certainly do not have anything to complain about. However, I worry for the people in our society, who were struggling even before this. Imagine a child who depended on school for a warm meal. Or those families who were at a breaking point but the support a kindergarten placement gave them was what kept them together and sane. The problems that can arise from services closing can be monumental. How many people will lose their jobs and incomes? What consequences will that have? The worries just go on.
I have tried my best to adjust my behaviour to stop the spread of the virus. I wash my hands carefully. I have intentionally limited all my social contacts to my immediate family. I am working from home but my employer has not ordered us to do so, which means I might have to go to the office sometime soon. If that happens, I will go by car and avoid public transport. I aim to do most of my grocery shopping online. I help my mother with her shopping so she doesn’t have to visit the supermarket. Even though it’s not ideal, I don’t visit my mother or father-in-law in their homes to avoid any risk of contagion (for him/her).
Thankfully we are still allowed to go outside to exercise and I have been going for long walks to the forest or beach. Now that my calendar is totally empty, I can concentrate on things that need my attention at home, like gardening, vacuuming the car and so on.
In this new light, the worries I had a month ago feel quite minimal. My current job contract ends in June and I was very stressed about securing a new job by May. Now recruiting has shut down almost entirely and people are losing the jobs that they had. This means that the numbers of applicants will skyrocket for any open position. Somehow it doesn’t feel so important anymore. If the situation gets dire, I still have the option of falling back on my first profession of an early childhood/preschool teacher.
I’m sure you’ve all come across this beautiful and hopeful poem:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
– Kitty O’Meara
How are you and your family? What is the situation like at your end? Let me know. ❤
❤ Thank you to all the health care workers who are fighting the pandemic in the front lines and all those people who make our society work in this difficult time ❤
Love to all, stay safe and stay home. ❤