It seems our world was turned upside down almost overnight.
Little freedoms most of us took for granted are now taboo.
Hugs and kisses with loved ones, far from spreading love, now threaten to spread a virus that can kill.
Coffee with friends, once a friendly activity, is now more like playing a war game and definitely poses a threat to life.
Celebrations to mark birthdays, weddings and other significant occasions are a minefield of danger if shared. And, like a game of Russian roulette, there is no predicting when the danger may hit you.
Governments around the world are warning people to isolate and practice social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic which has already killed tens of thousands around the globe.
While the pain and loneliness of this necessity are impacting everyone to different degrees, there could just be a silver lining.
What if isolation and social distancing actually made us closer?
Don’t believe for a moment I am discounting the dark days and excruciating pain that thousands are experiencing as they mourn the loss of their loved ones, taken away by the virus.
Each and every one of us is experiencing this crisis in different ways.
Some are frightened and far from home. Some are dealing with illnesses that could make them more vulnerable.
For me, the focus is on lightening a heavy heart caused by missing my family, big cuddles from little grandkids, the smiling faces of my students and the hugs from friends. I am going nowhere near my 90-year-old mother who is dealing with many health issues. The risk is just too great. However, there is no immediate end in sight and it makes me acutely aware that time may be running out.
ISOLATION AND THE SILVER LINING
That same woman brought me up to always look for the silver lining – the good that can be found in even the most horrible situations.
Some days I’m better at opening my eyes to this than others.
A while back, when spending days with your grandchildren was still a thing, one of my granddaughters said: “I wish this virus didn’t happen Grandy”.
I told her I did too, but we must look for the silver lining. I said our world was getting healthier.
- The air is cleaner than it’s been in decades.
- The water in rivers and streams around the world is cleaner and clearer, attracting more creatures.
- Wildlife everywhere is reclaiming former play spots – places where human activity was so intense there was no room left for the world’s other creatures. Off the Italian island of Sardinia, dolphins, pushed away by countless tourist boats, have returned to play.
I told her I thought the planet had decided it needed a holiday (from humans) and came up with a way to keep us indoors so it could rest and heal. This made her smile.
It could be this virus will go a long way towards solving some of our huge climate change issues. Even when the virus is no longer a threat and restrictions are lifted, it is likely much of our way of life will be forever changed. Many businesses may realise the benefits and cost savings of having staff work from home. This will reduce traffic on our roads, meaning cleaner air.
ISOLATION IS MAKING PEOPLE CLOSER
Aside from the benefits to the planet, there are personal benefits.
This virus has stopped us in our tracks and made us take a pause from the hectic schedules we had set up for ourselves. It has given us the gift of time. How we spend that time is, of course, up to us.
We could spend it defying the restrictions and putting everyone at risk. Or feeling anxious and angry that we have to deal with the isolation, inconvenience and loneliness.
Or, we could use the time for self-improvement, self-reflection and meaningful connections with others.
I’ve recently had some really wonderful conversations with friends via email, phone and video chats. These are conversations we would normally not have found time for in our busy schedules. These are conversations that are making us closer.
Where not long ago our conversations revolved around calendar dates and to-do lists, now my family and I share funny memes within our WhatsApp group just about every day. We are trying to cheer each other up, share a laugh and have some fun. It’s like a virtual hug.
Lack of physical proximity and touch could actually lead to closer emotional ties with many.
WE MAY BE IN ISOLATION, BUT WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
When I was having that conversation with my granddaughter, I also told her that many people were going out of their way to help others get through this and that they were part of the silver lining.
These people include the health care workers putting their lives on the line to save others and the big company CEOs contributing to a solution – whether by retooling to so they can create masks or hand sanitizer instead of what they normally produce or spending millions of dollars to help find a vaccine.
They include the teachers who go to work, face near empty classrooms, angry parents and some children whose hygiene may be questionable. One of my daughters-in-law recently shared a video of each of the teachers at my granddaughters’ school, leaving messages of hope and joy for the students. It was beautiful, way above and beyond and even brought a tear to my eye.
These people also include the individuals trying to add some sunshine to people’s days, by using chalk to make beautiful coloured patterns on buildings or putting a teddy bear in their window so children can turn a walk into a fun bear hunt. Both of these examples have started a worldwide trend.
A TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANTAGE
If we have to go through such a horrible pandemic, we’re living in the right time to do it. Never before has it been so easy to stay in touch with those you care about.
This could be lost on younger generations, but I remember when dial-up telephones and telegrams sent through the post office were the fastest way to reach someone.
Now we have many options for video chats, instant messaging and audio conversations.
This isn’t just a bonus for keeping in touch with those you know and care about, it’s a way the world can connect and share support against a common enemy.
And some of those silver lining people are doing just that.
A quick glance through Facebook shows the amazing generosity of spirit that some people have.
Many public Facebook groups have been formed, specifically designed to help people connect and cheer them up.
Two of my favourites are View from my window and Bin isolation outing.
View from my window offers members the chance to share the view from their window. Many choose to share a little about themselves as well and it’s beautiful, and sometimes heart-wrenching, to read their stories.
Even more beautiful are some of the incredible views – from all over the world. I just love getting these in my newsfeed as they help me feel connected to everyone in the world. It’s a scientific fact that we are!
Bin isolation outing was created on March 28, 2020, to make people laugh. The About section just about says it all: “So basically the bin goes out more than us SO let’s dress up for the occasion! Fancy dress, makeup, tutu ….be creative! Post photos to cheer us up after all laughter is the best medicine”
The pictures are hilarious and I love the extent people are prepared to go to make others laugh. Can’t wait to dress up for our next bin day. 🙂
Comments from members have described viewing the funny posts as a lifesaver that is keeping them sane.
For those with a wicked sense of humour and the desire to ‘laugh in the face of danger’, like Simba from The Lion King, COVID-19 Funnies is just the group for you. It keeps me in stitches and gives me plenty of material for my daily funny to family.
Of course, there are countless more of these groups – a show of solidarity and support among people everywhere. It’s a way to connect when we’re feeling disconnected. A way to feel close when we’re forced to be apart.
And in our forced pause, we may just find that our isolation makes us closer.
What’s your favourite way to connect with others while social distancing?
Have a gleeful week, Tamuria