Day 72: Coronavirus Gratitude. “Look for the Helpers.”

I look at the world around me and despite the effects of the Coronavirus I am able to see the positive and feel optimism and gratitude. I myself am a shadowy dark-cloaked being that is devoid of beauty and joy, but I spend my life wandering through an alien landscape feeling overwhelmed by things like flowers and rainbows and kindness.

Right now is no exception. We’re engaged in “social distancing” to try to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Schools, businesses, libraries, major sporting events, parades, concerts and theater, all are either shut down already or likely soon to become so.

Yesterday, President Trump held a press conference and declared a state of emergency (transcript).

I’m able to turn off the part of my brain that feels unbelievable frustration about Trump’s narcissism and lack of basic human decency and empathy (is that redundant? I think that’s redundant). Sure, the press conference was long on self-congratulatory remarks and allowing CEOs of major corporations to plug the efforts of their organizations and short on actual substance, details, or kindness.

“In global disaster movies, there’s always a scientist who’s like, WE HAVE TO ACT NOW OR PEOPLE WILL DIE and some government guy who’s like, YOU’RE BLOWING THIS OUT OF PROPORTION and I’m like, NO ONE WOULD REACT TO INFO LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE. …My apologies to those movies.”

Sure, any reporter who tried to push for actual answers (video clip) was silenced both by Trump talking over them and their mic being shut down. For now anyway (vote blue 2020!) we live in a world where Trump is President of the United States. My expectation is he will somehow find a new low to hit each and every day.

And sure, much of our planet is effectively shut down right now. There is fear about the economic consequences of this, both on a global scale and an individual one. Many people are without income during this time. My heart goes out to them.

There is also anxiety for how this may impact me, personally. I was laid off last month for unrelated reasons and am currently job searching. I’m a Project Manager and I work primarily with SaaS (software as a service). My experience is mostly servicing higher education. Will this impact my search? There are reasons to think it might and reasons to think it will not, and only time will tell which it shall be.

And yet, I am succeeding in seeing beauty around me amidst all of this.

It snowed here last night and the world is beautiful. It would be if it hadn’t snowed, but being coated in a wash of white makes it stunning.

I appreciate that I am ideally suited to be stuck at home right now. My situation is a fortunate one and I am grateful. I know others aren’t as lucky. But I live alone with my cats and am someone who is comfortable doing nothing. I am unlikely to go stir crazy as others might. And, my unemployment benefits are aided by the half-decent amount of money I have in my savings account.

In fact, I can even see upsides to being self-quarantined (is it called that if you’re not sick?). Without social events on my calendar, I’ll adhere to nutrition goals even better than usual, and will avoid alcohol far more easily.

Many people staying home, and many people canceling plans that involve air travel, is terrific for reducing air pollution. Northern Italy has experienced an impact already.

New data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite reveal the decline of air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide emissions, over Italy. This reduction is particularly visible in northern Italy which coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

European Space Agency, March 13, 2020, Coronavirus: nitrogen dioxide emissions drop over Italy

I’m also appreciative that we’re experiencing this pandemic in 2020 and not in pre-internet decades.

Let’s take a moment and feel gratitude that we have all these tools of connectivity at our disposal. Those of us who have access to the internet and devices on which to do so are privileged in so many ways. We have more entertainment available to us in terms of books, movies, TV shows, and music than we’ll ever be able to make it through. We can keep in touch with each other. Heck, we can even sit and have a drink together through group video chats.

This isolation would have felt monumentally more punishing in decades not so long ago.

What we’re living through right now feels rather unbelievable. It is one of many crazy things from this period of time that will feature prominently in history books. Future generations will ask us about our experience of it someday.

I, for one, will tell them about the people I knew who did everything they could to flatten the curve, and who accepted the shut-downs with grace and understanding despite the inherent difficulties.

My achievement for yesterday was gratitude. Yes, this is a terrible time. But within it, we’re seeing the helpers Mr. Rogers’ mother told him to look for.

We’re seeing things like NBA players who are paying the salaries of employees of stadiums that have been shut down.

People quarantined in Italy who play music, dance, and sing while standing on their balconies.

Educational software companies offering free licenses to schools so classes can continue online while schools are closed.

And all of us who are cancelling our social gatherings and staying home, doing our small part to limit the spread, too.

I strive for joy and peace during this awful time. I aim to focus on the positive things I see around me rather than giving in to fear and negativity. Right now, I am achieving it somewhat okay.

I hope you are, as well. Take care of yourself, anxiety friends.

“Viruses are contagious. So is panic. Fear. Hysteria. Calm. Love. Enthusiasm. Joy. Choose wisely.”

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