COVID-19 Diaries. Day Three- An Ocean In Between The Waves

Photo by Gatis Marcinkevics on Unsplash

Watchet, Somerset, UK, 25th March 2020 22:17

Today was the day in which we found out that Prince Charles has the Coronavirus. We also heard that nearly half a million people have applied for Universal Credit in 9 days, which is a broken and cruel system of benefits which has driven numerous individuals to suicide in the years of Tory austerity. We also heard the chilling news that Spain, the country I grew up in, has now recorded more fatalities from COVID-19 than China. 738 deaths in the last 24 hours. That’s one death every 2 minutes….

But today I want to write about a simple sentence that one of my students said to me today: “I have started enjoying spaghetti bolognese again”.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

This simple statement hides within what I believe could be a fundamental change which can result from the current crisis. We live our lives constantly focusing on the next thing, on our desires, schedules, bucket lists, social media feeds and news media. We constantly distract ourselves from the moment we are in. We avoid making full and vibrant contact with the beauty and magic that we can experience if we allow ourselves to connect with it. It is very difficult to avoid this state of mind in today’s world. We are bombarded from day one with messages that make us feel less than. The messages from advertising and capitalist media feed us a narrative that what we have: our houses, jobs, partners, cars, clothes, holidays, etc, aren’t as good as those of models and celebrities. We look at other people’s social media feed and we compare our autobiographical narrative to the highlights reel of our peers. Everyone seems to go to great gigs, have fabulous healthy meals, engage in fulfilling yoga or shiatsu practice and their kids are creative, caring and eat olives for breakfast. We compare and therefore we despair.

But we are told that if we buy the latest shiny brand new thing, whatever it is, we will be granted temporary reprieve from this deep sense of inadequacy. Buy this and you will become one of the chosen ones. Fix yourselves with the communion with the god of consumerism. Hardly surprising that we don’t want to feel and connect with reality when we are constantly told that emotions and intimacy are things to be feared.

We have become disconnected from each other and from our environment.

Photo by Zohaib Alam on Unsplash

A few years ago, I was granted a gift by my daughter Ami. She was about 2 or 3 years old at the time. I drove her to nursery one morning in autumn. At the time I was working in a rehabilitation centre for the treatment of drug and alcohol problems, a highly stressful and pressured job. That morning I was anxious, running late, dreading to be told off for it by my manager. Ami got out of the car and she started messing around the car park which was full of fallen leaves. She was picking them up and trying to show them to me. I tried to drag her to nursery so that I could drive off and avoid the rush hour traffic on the M5. Ami keep trying to show me this one leaf and I snapped and raised my voice at her: “what do you want?” and she said “look Daddy, look”, “yes, it’s a leaf”, I replied. “But it’s pretty Daddy, look”. And at that moment something clicked in my head and I saw the leaf through Ami’s eyes. It was a thing of beauty: brown and read, with patterns and a story behind it. Then I looked around me and saw that the car park was full of leaves. Then I looked up at the trees and saw where those leaves had fallen from. I thought: “how many millions of leaves and thousands of trees do I see every day and I don’t even take notice”. And at that moment, I felt connected with the world around me and, especially, with my amazing daughter, who suddenly and unwittingly had given me one of the most valuable lessons of my entire life, one which I had forgotten. That we have the power to embrace and connect with the moment that we are living in. That we can see the world through the eyes of a child if we choose to do so. What a gift.

It seems to me that the gift which COVID-19 is giving us is the opportunity to do this on a grander scale. We have become accustomed to having 3o different types of chocolate in our shops and we moan when we feel our choices are limited. We get angry when our program on Netflix starts buffering. We get mad because we are stuck in traffic or when the things we want don’t materialise immediately. We tend to choose stuff over meaning.

Perhaps this situation can teach us that all these things aren’t really all that important. Money isn’t real. Stuff doesn’t really matter when we cannot hug and touch our loved ones. We cannot hug our iPhones or LCD TV’s but we can connect with one another if we choose to do so.

In the last few days, I have spoken to more strangers in the street or in the shops that in the previous 5 years. The same goes to talking with family and friends. Why does it always take a tragedy for humans to appreciate what we have all along but chose to ignore?

I truly hope that we can use this opportunity to learn from the world and from each other. It’d be such a shame if we miss this chance, we might not get another.

Good night all

OneLove OneHeart

Tonight’s song is by The War On Drugs: An Ocean In Between The Waves (Acoustic Version)

World-wide confirmed cases: 466,955

World-wide deaths: 21,152

World-wide recovered: 113,770

UK confirmed cases: 9,639

UK deaths: 465

UK recovered: 135

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