I find it incredible how much life can stay the same for so long, daily routines being followed with every individual person on the planet tracing the path of their own trajectory, simply getting from A to B. Sometimes it’s like the slow times happen when life is fast paced, and somehow when life slows down, everything speeds up. And only now, in the middle of a global pandemic have I been able to pinpoint this feeling of life speeding by as it also grinds to a halt.
In just a few short weeks, the global situation has escalated. You, COVID-19, have infected over one million people, and infected even more with fear and uncertainty. You have taken over 52,000 last breaths with no loved ones to hold the hands of those who breathe it. But you do not know when to stop taking. And you will take many more in the days, weeks and months to come.
One thing I have felt niggling in the back of my mind is all the lives you are taking in one go, never leaving space for them to receive any recognition. Names get lost within a daily figure of death rates to be updated with. Only the famous or the heroic doctors and nurses who succumb to your greed get announced. However, it sometimes feels as though the rich and famous somehow amount to more because their name is well known. But that is the truth about you, you are unforgiving, uncaring of who you take. You make us equal in our existences. Rich celebrity or middle-class citizen, you don’t care, a life is a life. Their body is a home regardless of their daily routine or life achievements, isn’t it?
Since lock down, you have transformed reality. The world has shuffled into new routines and new environments for some. As a university student, I left my home in the city not knowing it would be the last time for a long time that I would open the curtains of my messy room, cook food on my shared kitchen stove, or laugh on the sofa at 2am with the people who had become like siblings to me over the last two years. That world suddenly hit pause, and none of us were ready. I returned to my family home and walked through the front door to have hand-sanitizer shoved into my palm and the TV blaring a news update. I walked through the front door and knew things were changing for real.
Over the past few weeks, COVID-19, you have made hands red, dry, raw and cracked from precautionary attempts to wash you away. You have forced previously bustling streets to become ghostly quiet, and made the minds of those who struggle with mental health to become unbearably loud. You have created an anticipatory panic for stockpiling food and daily necessities, leaving the vulnerable more vulnerable. You’ve brought the horror films we comforted ourselves as fictional to life, given a heartbeat to some people’s worst nightmares and brought guilt on those who feel like they have become lazy with their routine.
Each day I wake up to the sound of the news from dawn til dusk, feeding the nation with new heart wrenching information. I do workouts to feel productive, I read dystopian books to remind myself there are darker horrors than this one, and I listen to music to block out the inescapable repetition of the word ‘coronavirus’.
But COVID-19, the defining element of this new reality is not the everyday repetition. It’s all the love that is being grown through the cracks you’re trying to create. NHS workers, doctors, nurses, food suppliers, delivery services and many more deserving heroes are fighting to keep hearts beating and lives moving. On Thursdays the streets are filled with the sound of applause for miles around to thank the NHS as the sun falls. People exercise and are grateful for the air they are able to breathe in. Standing two metres apart, people laugh to lift spirits. Pets are happy they are getting so much unexplained new attention. Writers, artists, intellects and entrepreneurs have the time to invest in their creative nature.
You may have slowed the world, and maybe we were ploughing ahead. Every one was wrapped up in themselves and their own plans and futures, saying they will deal with the devestation we collectively are causing “later”. And now we have been forced to stop and stare at ourselves and what we have become. And maybe it is time. Maybe that “later” is now, and there is no more “later”.
Coronavirus, you have taken and taken and you will continue to take and take. But when this is over, the world will give and give just as it has begun the journey of learning how to in the right ways. Lives and reality will change forever. Perhaps we had this coming, and sadly you have been the one to see opportunity to take us on whilst we weren’t looking.
Yet if there is one thing you have taught us, COVID-19, it is that within the good there is always bad. But most importantly, within the bad there is always, always good.
The world that will never stop fighting.
Last modified: 3rd April 2020