The Corona pandemic has been a time of great introspection for me. It’s a complex, uncertain, and completely alien situation that is unlike anything I, or anyone I know, has experienced before. The ambiguity of the future is certainly unnerving – given that I’m currently unemployed and have unexpectedly finished uni far earlier than I intended to, I’m in the crux of trying to find some sense of purpose in all of this. When the world slowly begins to return to some version of normality, I can’t really picture what the future will look like for me.
However, the response to the pandemic has restored my faith in the world. Seeing communities band together, the courage of staff at the NHS, and the kind efforts of some has been really uplifting. We have a community group chat for our neighbourhood, and it’s perhaps the most interaction I’ve ever had with some of them. I certainly feel guilty that I am not doing “more” to help others, but if like me, you live with someone with respiratory issues, sometimes staying at home is all you can do.
The environmental impact as a result of an almost-global lockdown has been an unexpected but wonderful outcome too. Perhaps naively, I hope that seeing the changes in nature will pave the way for a more considerate future in assessing the impact of industry on the planet. In Hong Kong, the average number of “good quality air days” increased 21.5% in February, compared to the same period last year, according to China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. It’s important to stress that the coronavirus has not caused this, more rather, it’s the human response to the virus. The solutions and measures that have been implemented now are ones that need to continue, if not added to, after lockdown lifts.
In general, there appears to have been a global return to a simpler way of life, and for me, the days certainly seem slower. Taking the time to invest myself in creative person projects, more consciousness about what I eat and cook for others, and seeing exercise and freedom not as a chore, but as a privilege has undoubtedly transformed my outlook on life for the better. As someone who normally struggles without routine and structure, the ability to feel a sense of calm and a real appreciation for daily rituals has been transformative – I even feel more well-rested.
It’s important to note, I see all of the above as consolatory given how much the world and humanity have been affected. I am privileged in so many ways, and am incredibly appreciative that the impact that the pandemic has had on my life is about as minimal as it could be under the circumstance. As a literature student, my dependence on teaching was fairly minimal even prior to the pandemic. I’m fortunate to thrive through self-directed learning – the same can’t be said for my 16 year old brother and the sudden cancellation of his GCSEs.
I think ultimately, there’s no real “right” way to cope with all of this as the whole situation is unprecedented. Being too positive for me feels overly reductive of the struggles other’s face right now, and being too cynical is unhelpful. Perhaps we get to be selfish during this period and – even if only for short period of time – we get to forget what everyone else thinks of us, and just focus on what we need to do to get through this.