navigating fear, embracing simplicity: my notes on COVID-19

It’s pretty safe to say there’s really nothing good about this whole Coronavirus scare. Toilet paper is flying off the shelves, long-anticipated travel plans are being cancelled, and there’s significant fear in the fact that – while we probably won’t die from it – we might pass it on to someone who could.

Personally, I’ve been trying to take all this news one day at a time, mostly by avoiding the news altogether. I’ve been taking my own precautions, while also avoiding the panic, which unfortunately might mean that I’ve missed out on my own opportunity to get some toilet paper that I might actually need sometime in the next two weeks. Honestly, what scares me most of all is losing access to fresh foods, friendships, and the kind of distractions that would usually get most of us through a scary time like this, like going to the movies or a flea market.

But there’s a fine balance in pretending that all is well, and acknowledging that all is very much not well. And what I’m realizing is that if all I ever do is worry and panic and live in fear….well, then, I’m not really living anymore, am I?

Yes, I need to wash my hands and not touch my face and avoid contact with anyone who might be sick. Yes, I probably need to hit the grocery for some non-perishables because there’s a very good chance they’re all being scooped up by other people at this very moment. But aside from that, what’s stopping me from enjoying my life?

Nothing. That’s what.

In fact, dare I say I’m almost enjoying it more?

You see, this whole Coronavirus thing has really made me start questioning how much I want to leave the house if I don’t really need to. Which means that I have, in fact, been spending more time at home, which – spoiler alert – is actually one of the tenets of my goals for simplicity.

Over the last week, I’ve realized that, yes, I am a little scared – and sometimes, I’m really scared. The next few weeks, and possibly the next several months, are all in question, and I hate that. I can dwell on it for hours if I need to. But as soon as my phone starts blowing up with bad news, I want to nullify it. Because I can’t allow myself to drown in this negative space. Heck, I really don’t want to!

So the other day, as a slew of texts rolled in complaining about cancelled conferences, uncertain plans, and what to do next, I found myself walking away from my phone, putting on a pot of tea, and just standing there, in my home, looking out the windows, taking it all in.

Because there’s a lot of shit going on out there y’all, but there’s also a lot we have to be grateful for. And once we let the panic and fear and anxiety of the outside world commandeer our personal ships, we’re in no state to help others or ourselves. In fact, I don’t know if this is science or not, but doesn’t a weakened state of mind impact our immune system all by itself?

Let me say, I’m not grateful for Coronavirus. I’m not grateful for the lives, economies, or systems that it continues to impact in a negative fashion. I’m not grateful for the worry it causes, or the fear that it might never end. But I am grateful for the space it’s offering me. I’m grateful for these afternoon cups of tea and moments of reflection. I’m grateful for the opportunity to sit and read, rather than rush off to some obligation. I’m grateful for the way it’s forcing me to enjoy what I have and find things to do that don’t involve getting up and going all the time. I’m grateful for the way it’s giving me more joy in the small and insignificant intricacies of goat raising, cooking at home, and planning my own vegetable garden. And I’m grateful for all this gratitude it’s giving me.

I don’t know what tomorrow, or next week, or next month holds. The way the news talks, it feels like there’s nothing left to take away. But deep down, I feel faith and hope in knowing that some things aren’t going anywhere. Because we have each other, y’all. And we still have a deep relationship with ourselves that could probably use some nurturing, too. And in the meantime, traffic is still coming down the road, McDonald’s is still open (for now), and there are no limitations involved in taking a long walk outside when we need it. Life is still worth living, in whatever ways we can.