The world has changed.
In a few short weeks the life we knew, the life that we built, the life we sculpted just right to suit us, is no more.
No, it’s not climate change.
It’s not war.
It’s not poverty.
It’s a virus.
It knows no boundaries, needs no passport, asks no personal questions, answers no surveys, dresses in no particular fashion, and hides in plain sight.
It’s the Coronavirus.
I call it the C virus; C as in Cancelled.
Also called COVID-19 Cancelled Or Very Inconvenient Death
It’s relentless, it’s deadly, and it’s scary.
Borders are closing for the first time since the end of World War Two.
Schools and universities are on indefinite break.
Work from home, employees are told who can.
Those who can’t are laid off.
Airlines are grounded, restaurants are closed.
Travel plans are forced to postpone.
Hospitals are overloaded and exposing their weaknesses.
Classes are cancelled, symphonies are quiet.
Choirs aren’t singing and festivals are not festive.
My Zumba class isn’t cancelled, but should I go?
The Samba card game is still on, but should I participate?
My gym is still open, but is it safe?
I pondered whether it was wise to go to the next Expat Meeting, and then they cancelled it.
Is it easier if the choice is not yours to make?
Would we volunteer to lock our doors and hunker down if it were not imposed?
Does everyone who should self-isolate do it??
Don’t panic, but take it seriously, but every now and then I find myself taking it very, very seriously and that feels uncomfortably close to panic.
I am lucky here in Chiang Mai. I’m healthy.
I’m hopeful that if I should get the virus my body will have the power to heal and fully recover, even though my age is in the higher risk category.
I have the company of my wonderful husband to ward off the loneliness that comes with staying home most of the time.
I live in a country where I still have the freedom to move around at my discretion; to shop, to meet a friend in a cafe, to travel locally, for now.
Everyday more doors are closing.
Everything we loved to participate in has stopped.
Communities are questioning what actually is a community and I wonder about the effects the absence of physical closeness will have on people’s psyches.
Hasn’t science long ago proved the importance of physical touch for one’s well being?
What effect will this isolation have on us as human beings?
Will we become more needy, less trusting, more fearful?
Or can we imagine a world of more gratitude, compassion and dialogue?
Just where we will be as individuals, as a community, as a country and as a world when a C-virus vaccine is developed remains to be seen.
The stock market may rebound but many may have lost all their savings and may never recover them. Not every business will reopen.
The lost time in the classrooms may hamper students long after the school year ends its cycle and restarts.
The cancelled proms and university graduation memories will be missed.
However, there is a silver lining, one winner from all this.
With factories closed, production of just about everything on hold, and airplanes grounded, the earth is getting a much needed rest.
Polluters are cancelled.
The air is just a wee bit cleaner in a lot of locations right now.
Whether it will be significant depends on how long this cancelled era lasts, but it’s more than any politician has been willing to do for a very long time.
Maybe not a time for rejoicing, but it is fascinating the hard decisions politicians can make when they absolutely have to. My guess is that it may be business and pollution as usual once this is behind us, but maybe, we can come out on the other side of this with a renewed sense of eagerness to be more mindful of our precious resources and the preciousness of each other and all living things.
Or maybe we’ll all get the virus SM- short memory.