A year ago, when Covid was running rampant through our lives, there was a shared fear that led to a coming together of many social divides and political leanings. We were all in this together. Groceries were being left on doorsteps. People wanted to trust policymakers. We needed to believe they were following and adhering to the advice of the scientists, scrambling to understand the virus and provide guidance to keep us safe. To keep us alive. That was then.
Now, one year later, the fear, trust and compliance of citizens have largely vanished. Despite record numbers of Covid patients in the hospitals, lined up on metal gurneys in cluttered hallways, competing for critical care beds, and being shipped to medical facilities around the province, there is collective anger and skepticism. No longer are the politicians and scientists working together. So it seems.
Our rolling lock-downs, with rules that defy the recommendations and metrics of science, clearly indicate that money and business are the trump cards holding more power than the preservation of human health and well-being. Of human life. Leaders are keeping warehouses, big-box stores and factories open while sentencing individuals to indoor isolation. No longer is fresh air, community and exercise essential. It has been said that the fourth wave will be a pandemic of mental illness. A booster shot will be pathetically inadequate.
I’m fragile. The momentary wash of optimism after my first dose of the vaccine, quickly sucked dry by media details of blood clots. My adult children are now in the high-risk category. The colossal ineptness at vaccine procurement and distribution would be comical if it weren’t so tragic.
And yet, daily living still happens. I have the choice to survive or thrive. I have a decision to make: take ownership, or sit on the sidelines watching the deadly battle between politics and science. Seeking control over my outside world manifests an impossible win. Instead, I am gaining clarity and definition of my sphere of influence and impact. Without this consideration, I am free-floating and the world feels surreal. For me, it is like I’m watching TV, rather than being in the episode that is my life. I’ve lost my house keys twice, my credit card, and my mother’s diamond engagement ring. I misunderstood and showed up for a medical appointment 10 hours late. People are kind and understanding. I am ashamed and angry with myself. Get IT together.
It seems that reading less news, scrolling fewer headlines and ignoring daily death counts changes my thoughts and feelings. And gives me more time. A routine yoga practice, started a year ago and abandoned under the false pretense of things going back to “normal,” is now back on my daily purposes list. A writing class that felt like it might take up too much time now is a luxurious and engaging forum that is deepening my own storytelling. And opening my mind. My 2020 pandemic project vegetable garden is dry and barren. Waiting. The seedlings on the windowsills are impatient for more space and trellises to climb. The smaller and simpler life re-emerges. The challenge is to overcome weariness. To challenge the threat of stagnant energy. To cultivate agency over my life rather than acquiescence to being powerless.
I have a secret: I choose to read fashion headlines. It’s my scrolling indulgence. It provides the frames for my fantasy of needing to dress in anything other than leggings and oversized sweatshirts. For zoom calls of consequence, I usually add a scarf, earrings and lipstick. Still no waistband, heels, or fitted jacket. I also choose to read recipes. It’s another pastime that feeds my creativity and imaginary dinner party guests. These pastimes are much appreciated mind vacations.
I am taking responsibility for my own mental health. Re-engaging in daily purpose activities. Re-visiting my creative energy sources. Re-activating my commitment to fresh air and being in nature, daily. These are my booster shots. If we all participate, we can create herd immunity.
At least, that is my experience.