We are beating this wicked Covid-19 virus. It may not seem like it, what with our island and nearly our entire country in a shutdown, which most of us have never experienced.
But two things are inspiring. The first is that people are volunteering and showing compassion for one another at heightened levels, not only on Guam but all over the planet. That should give us hope that a majority of human beings are generally kind, decent people. Social media is flooded with posts about folks doing good deeds and working to help others.
People are making face masks or meals, delivering meals to those who can’t afford to buy food because they’ve lost their job, or to front line workers, or donating to efforts to do so. They’re helping neighbors and strangers. Musicians and artists are posting free songs or plays. Young people are making innovative videos about how to keep safe. Families are spending hours on Zoom meetings or Houseparties or other apps that bring people together virtually.
Most people seem to be working hard to make this miserable situation better. It’s far better than the muck that we all scrolled through on our phones and devoured like visual crack cocaine when things were “normal.”
Which brings me to the second inspiring thing: this talk about “a new normal.”
Nobody wants to be in this situation. Nobody wants to be stuck at home and not be able to go anywhere — out to eat, to a movie, over to friends’ houses, to school, work, or to a bar, or wherever. We were all so used to the rat race — juggling work, school, kids, meetings, friends, constantly on our phones, talking to someone while doing umpteen other things. Remember when we complained about how it was all too much?
Well, here is our chance to change things.
You don’t have to go to constant meetings, rush to pick someone up from practice, finish that report that was due yesterday, throw something together for dinner. This is your chance to get off your phones. To actually talk to your children or your spouse or partner. To learn what they are thinking about things. To ask your mom or dad, or nana or papa, about when they were young. What do they remember best? To teach your kids something - how to make estufao, or kelaguen, or chalakiles, or cookies, or to fix something, or to sew, whatever.
Go through old family pictures and laugh about them. Clean up the yard. Or clean out a closet. Plant a garden together. Make a composting bin out of an old garbage can (It’s easy. Google it!). You’ll be putting less garbage in the landfill and teaching your kids to be sustainable at the same time.
The point is that this novel coronavirus, as wicked as it is and as much havoc and stress as it has caused, has also given us an amazing opportunity. We have been given the chance to re-evaluate our “normal” –
how we have been living our lives up to this point. It has given us the opportunity to step off the treadmill, which was moving increasingly faster even if we weren’t the ones pressing the button to increase the speed.
When that treadmill starts up again, will you zip right back up to the same frenzied speed as before? Or will you take the opportunity to create a “new normal” to slow things down a bit, and continue some of the more productive activities that you are hopefully coming up with to spend time with your children and other family members?
We all complain about being stuck at home during this time, but what is the saying? “Home is where the heart is.” This pandemic is giving us the chance to rediscover the meaning of that phrase.
Make the most of it.
Jayne Flores is the director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and a long-time journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org