It was 372 days ago that we gathered as a family around our rectangular glass-topped dining room table in mid-town Toronto. We had moved into the condominium four days prior. The beds were made, the kitchen unpacked (though awaiting a new sink to fill the gaping hole in the countertop), and three pictures were hung. It was March 15th. We were celebrating our daughter’s 31st birthday. The foil vats of vegetables and meats aromatic with Indian spices tempted second and third helpings. The gathering that evening became the full extent of our family bubble for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. There were six of us and three dogs.
As planned earlier in the year, I launched my website and weekly blog a few weeks later. At the end of April, I was advised by a key client that my executive coaching fees would be clawed back. Budgets for all outside consultants were frozen. There would be no new clients in the near future. Finish the assignments that you have. Pretend we’re paying you. We appreciate your goodwill. These are unprecedented times.
I began to look at my world, small as it had become, through the lens of my musings. I wrote about the challenges of being present and engaged in simple daily activities — that’s all there was. With an overlay of fear and uncertainty as the pandemic took shape and seeped into all aspects of our lives, I was committed to self-empowerment. I would not become a victim. I discovered new energy by identifying my life purposes. I chose to engage each day in activities which fed my mind, body and soul. I shared my journey, my feelings and my vulnerabilities with those who read my blog. I ranted at politicians, media and those who chose individualism at the expense of our collective health and well-being. It felt good to put light and oxygen into my inner dialogue.
I shared my frustration and sadness at blatant racism, senseless deaths, toxic leaders and gender inequality. The slowing of time through the lockdowns and restrictions gave me opportunities to ponder, reflect and draw conclusions to nurture my need for peace and sanity.
I wrote about all that, and more.
Sitting at this moment, gazing over our beautiful valley at sunset, now emerging from the snow and ice to grey-brown fields and spring promises, I have yet another denouement. It’s one that lands with shame and anger. The inequities of our lives and privileged world have been magnified by the pandemic.
I recollect that the only news to grace media outlets other than case numbers, deaths and Covid–related updates, reeked of the purge of the vulnerable to this disease. The elderly housed in shared living spaces. The multigenerational families unable to isolate themselves from one another. The homeless. The addicts who died alone in dark corners of the city. The essential service providers, unable to see their families, exhausted and eventually succumbing to the virus. The silent victims of the inaccessibility of health care for chronic diseases, malignancies, immovable knees, failing hearts. People of all ages requiring support for their mental health needs. And rising above the daily pandemic death count emerged the violence and riots in response to race-related deaths. A reprieve from the scientists. An affirmation of the terminal nature of inequality.
All this dirty laundry was out on the line. Being aired in plain sight. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, newspapers and television. The screen became our lens on the world. Truths or lies, they were loose in cyberspace, landing in our living rooms.
As I enter Year Two of Covid living, I am blessed to have my first dose of vaccination. I am determined that the blessings of family and simple living will be forever part of my life. The experiences of the past year have provided moments of comfort and gratitude. The teachings of the past year have provided hours of anger and raw disturbance.
I am committed to intentional words and actions that challenge the pandemic of inequalities. I am committed to noticing. I am committed to sharing provocative thoughts.
At least, that is my experience.