My last blog post was on Monday – it’s now Saturday morning. Five days. What’s happened in those five days? On the surface of my family’s day to day life, not much. We’ve worked from home, kids have enjoyed sleeping in (school holidays started early, on Tuesday) and we’ve managed to get some household chores done between us. The dog has never been walked as much. There’s chatting with friends on Google hangouts, dance classes and girl guides done via Zoom, plenty of binge-watching Buffy/Angel, and online shopping deliveries arrived. I’m starting to feel as though I can sew again. We plan to go to the supermarket/grocer once per week. Just trying to figure out what’s likely to be the quietest time.
In among all this, my parents (can I describe you as elderly, Mum? You are 82 and 93) are at their home two hours drive away from us in country Victoria. They’re lucky to live in a very comfortable house surrounded by garden, with plenty of birds to watch and fresh air to breathe. They’re quite well, but are in a high risk group if they were to get sick. So they’re staying home. Like everyone else. We’re all staying home. It’s the only way that we can slow down and manage the spread of this virus.
My brother just got back from America and to his home in Cairns yesterday. It’s a relief to have him back in the country. Of course, he’s now in quarantine for two weeks. The predominant source of Australia’s covid-19 cases is from overseas travellers, with America being the most significant contributor. However, we’ve now also got community spread. ABC News (that’s Australian Broadcasting Company, for my overseas readers) has an excellent daily update of Australian statistics, sliced and diced in different ways. Now I am glad that I have studied stats at uni more than once, because I do understand those graphs.
I breathed a small sigh of relief this morning when I read that for the second day in a row the number of new daily cases in Australia has dropped a little. Maybe people are starting to really get the message and are just staying home! (I wrote too soon – yesterday was Victoria’s greatest single day increase in the number of cases.) However, the growth rate is still showing a doubling of total number of cases every 3-4 days. The forecasts still have us reaching medical capacity around 11th April.
And in the everyday, it’s become harder to remember what day of the week it is and what time of the day it is. It’s different without the routines and structures that we have when there is work and school and everything that goes along with that. Maybe it’s like being retired! The days start to blur into one another. My ‘to-do’ list is still long, yet doesn’t seem to carry the same pressure that it used to, because deadlines and available time to get things done has all become much more fuzzy. It surprises me that I don’t find this more ‘laissez-faire’ approach to daily life more difficult. Instead, I seem to have relaxed into it. No alarm clocks any more. No public transport to catch. As long as I get my work hours done in the week, it doesn’t matter when. My body has shifted into getting up at dawn when the birds start chirping. It’s lovely on the back deck in these beautiful autumn mornings.
I’ve switched from radio/television reporting on the pandemic to reading about it. I find that more helpful when it comes to managing my anxiety about the situation. I very much need to know what’s going on, especially as the situation is changing from day to day, but can moderate my exposure much more easily via ‘print’ (on screen, not on paper) media. I’ve also made a concious decision not to focus ‘too much’ about all the knock-on effects that this pandemic will have/is having on the economy, mental health, schooling, disadvantaged groups, politics, the state of the world in general. That’s just too overwhelming for me at the moment, with too many unknowns and things that I cannot predict. Yet I know that I say that from a place of privilege – it’s much easier for me to be an ostrich in comparison to many others. Clearly, this is going to have ripple effects for the rest of our lives. But at the moment – it’s a few days at a time. It’s also been good for me to focus on the blessings in my life – and I have many. I am still acknowleding all the griefs and losses that have arisen as part of this situation – because they are true and they are there and need to be dealth with emotionally – but am tempering that with all the good stuff. So many people have it much worse than my family does.
Gretchen Rubin shared the following in her newsletter this morning: ‘In this article, I found the concept of “anticipatory grief” particularly useful—and its advice that the best way to calm ourselves is by coming into the present. And to stock up on compassion.’
Andrea shared some words in response to my last blog post that I also found really helpful. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, and wrote ‘the current situation takes me back to the aftermath of our earthquakes and that feeling of vulnerability and also being in the same head space as everyone around us and there only being one topic of conversation. We learnt so much through that and although at the time it seemed to go on forever we got through and the sun did indeed shine again.‘
Currently, the need to get the virus under control from a health perspective is the most important thing. Those of us who are not involved in front line health care really do just need to stay at home. If in doubt, don’t go out. And to all those health care workers? Thank you. So much.