A silver lining to the coronavirus may be hard to find, but there just might be a glimmer of hope, some good news, even a sign (and a sigh) of relief.
Well, here in Australia, anyway.
Let’s see what has been revealed over the past few days:
Perhaps the cause of that good news can be found here:
According to latest figures, Australia is at a seven-day average of substantially below 50 new cases diagnosed.
How good is that?
These are just some of the good stories.
Apart from the sickness and hospital side of things:
There has been a rise in quality work by inspired street artists...
So you see, although there may be no real silver lining, there is reason for hope for a future – coronavirus free.
We should not forget the people who have suffered; those who have been victims of this awful illness – and those who have lost loved ones because of the virus.
We must be thankful for what Australia has achieved.
And...We must not forget the tireless work done by medical teams.
This poem (below) popped up online the other day. It’s beautiful and I hope it’s okay to share it.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art,
and played games, and learned new ways of being,
and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
(by U.S. writer/poet/retired teacher, Kitty O’Meara)
Keep safe, keep well, wash your hands.
The notices nailed to parts of the local park have increased in their severity.
The signs started by telling us ‘social distancing’ was the way to go. The signs are now stating boldly that the area is CLOSED. They are not trying to frighten us (or I hope they’re not), they - the signs themselves, or the council people who ordered them - are trying to keep us all safe from this incredibly rampant virus.
Physical separation seems the best way to do this. If we keep to ourselves and severely limit our contact with others, the risk of meeting with the virus and becoming infected lessens.
That’s okay and most of us are coping with these rules and regulations without too much trouble.
But, it’s still early days. How will we be feeling in a month’s time?
In three months’ time?
Six months’ time?
Eventually, boredom will set in – but more than that, a difficult task may be to rein in a creeping fear of what the future holds. And it’s a very real fear.
Reining in fear will take effort. Right now, it’s fine for television programs to show a ‘good news story’ every so often. Something to warm our hearts; maybe a kind deed from some part of community to another - the firemen delivering birthday wishes to house-bound kids, people singing, or dancing in their driveways. But such deeds and happenings are in danger of becoming a bit stale and ‘same-ish’. We might become wearied by too many ‘let’s look on a bright side’ stories.
The constant enumeration of states and countries’ infection and death rates will become a monotonous and dreary wallpaper in our lives – as well as being terrifying.
I have a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter living in the UK and, while we (smug) Australians listen to our country’s low infection figures, we hear that, in the UK, a thousand people a day are DYING of this virus. Fear for my family grabs its icy grip on my heart at every such news announcement.
It is sometimes difficult to rein in the fear.
And, now there is another fear. Some in the business community - the moneyed - are proposing the idea of creating ‘herd immunity’.
According to The Conversation, UK,
‘Herd immunity means letting a large number of people catch a disease, and hence develop immunity to it, to stop the virus spreading.’
The writer goes on to say:
‘Let’s say Australia and New Zealand relied on herd immunity. Now let’s assume, conservatively, that 10% of the population were infected – that’s 500,000 New Zealanders and 2.5 million Australians. Over a short period, those numbers would disastrously overwhelm the nations’ health systems.’
Doesn’t sound like a happy solution to me!
Actually, the UK tried it for a while, then panicked and changed their minds – too late for many!
This week, Nine News Political Editor, Chris Uhlmann, had this to say:
‘When the International Monetary Fund meets this week it is expected to forecast the deepest contraction for the global economy since the Great Depression.’
No doubt true...But then…..
‘…older Australians should also be free to roam where they please because we live in a democracy. They should be allowed to make an informed choice, weighing the risks they face against the lives they want to lead….
If a grandparent chooses the hugs of a grandchild over the chance that a loving embrace might one day kill them who are we to say it’s not their choice to make?’
Is he for real?
Look, I’m a grandmother and I have had a happy and fulfilling life and, to be honest, I would far rather I die than any of my children or grandchildren, BUT, that’s a different sort of choice. It's not a valid choice one can make.
I don’t think the ‘herd immunity’ choice is one that decides, ‘Okay, so you’re a grandma who would willingly give your life for your children, so, off you go – and thanks.’ This virus will not choose the grandmas like me and leave the younger generation.
This virus is far sneakier than that.
To save the economy downfall, the two and a half million Australians who could die would not necessarily be your grandma.
It might be you, or your friends or the kid next door – or your daughter or son, or your mother, or father, or …. anyone!
Putting money before people’s lives is an unhappy thought.
Sure, the economy will crash – it’s already started. People are out of work and society is crumbling in many areas…but we have been there before and come out of it.
Sure, it's extremely difficult; it takes time. It also takes a different outlook on life in general.
So, for now, obey the signs in the parks and elsewhere and concentrate on positive thinking.
We will survive.
Our current need for ‘Mother Nature’
To paraphrase Paul McCartney:
‘When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Nature comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…..’
I see him most mornings at first light.
A middle-sized Eastern Water-Dragon sitting on one of the rocks at the far end of the pool.
He is about 40 centimetres long and quite handsome.
Over the course of the morning he comes and goes. I watch him while I’m eating my breakfast. He disappears for a while and then my attention is drawn to some other – very young – dragons. Some so tiny, their body no thicker than a skewer.
Each year, between about October and May, some of these delightful dragons make our place their home. They come in sizes from about 12 centimetres and ‘thin as a whip’ to almost a metre long, strong and stripy.
The tail of a dragon takes up two-thirds of his size; baby dragons’ tails are mere threads at their end.
A couple of hours after breakfast, when I am having a cup of tea, a little dragon almost always runs out of the nearby creeper. He is quick at catching insects, mainly ants and I watch his tiny throat muscles move as he chews and swallows his prey.
He is often joined by another, slightly larger, dragon. They do not socialize but eye each other off from a safe distance.
One morning the tiniest dragon caught a garden worm. It was almost as big as him. ‘He’ll never eat that’, was my thought as I watched for some minutes as he began to manipulate his tiny mouth and jaw, swallowing hard. At one stage there was a piece of worm protruding from his mouth, looking as if a tongue, far too big for such a small creature, was poking out as a rude insult. It took minutes, but the worm was eventually down inside the little dragon, who then ran off (not as quickly as usual) – no doubt to have a big rest.
These are part of my outdoor observations, while house-bound during this terrible pandemic.
It’s not only dragons who keep me amused and uplifted.
There is a magpie who sits on the back fence and warbles his beautiful song most mornings. After a few minutes of singing, he glides down to the grass, eyes (and ears?) cocked, watching and listening. Silently he stalks invisible creatures before plunging his sharp beak into the ground, to emerge with a quickly eaten insect or grub.
The magpie is but one of the bird visitors. There are several currawongs who fly in and around - and a kookaburra who makes an occasional visit on a tree branch or fence top.
His laughter is a welcome sound - never long enough.
If the currawongs’ call joins the kookaburra’s, we know there’s a good possibility of rain.
We have small flocks of colourful lorikeets forever crowding the grevilleas, joining the noisy miners and blue-faced honey-eaters.
Lately butterflies of all colours and sizes have filled our backyard air, as well as dragonflies, big and small; blue, silver, black and red.
All these creatures are my companions every day.
They make days of isolation bearable.
Of course, we read books, we listen to music and catch up with podcasts and Twitter, Face Book, Face Time and News bulletins.
But it is the natural world and its wonder that is the saving force of ‘Lockdown’.
Our grass is green and the garden with all its current flowering glory helps greatly, as does the view from our back deck over to a small area of parkland that adjoins a treed golf course.
As I look through our palm trees and frangipani, I see clumps of tall eucalypts no further than a few hundred metres away. The koalas seem to have left but we never stop hoping for a re-visit.
I miss my (past) rural living but am grateful for the fact that we are not cooped up in a concrete city block with no view of nature.
I feel for city folk with no means of escape into the bush - or visits to the seaside. I especially feel for children who have no green grass to run on or trees to climb.
It is now that we have a great need for the benefits of the natural world.
Whether it’s water dragons, birds, butterflies or merely gardens and trees, we need these parts of nature to help us through the isolation forced on us by this dreadful Covid19 pandemic.
Stay well during this stressful time and try and find peace in nature and its surrounds, wherever you can.
Some interesting quotes:
From ‘MensLine’, Australia:
“…science and research is only just beginning to understand – that the healing power of nature can have a marked effect on mental wellbeing…”
Dr. Vicki Harber (US): “…when researchers compare children who play outdoors with those who play indoors, they find that the outdoor children have less stress, reduced aggression, and more happiness”.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study Nature, love Nature, stay close to Nature. It will never fail you.”
The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (US): “…people who live within 1 kilometre of a park or a wooded area experience less anxiety and depression than those who live farther away from green space.”
From a report by the University of Minnesota:
“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones…”
For anyone ‘upset’ by my referral to dragons and birds as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ (or ‘she’), I cannot bear to think of these beautiful creatures as mere ‘its’, and he/she is so clumsy, it just has to be ‘he’.
Let’s look on the bright side of this awful virus.
The good news:
(When I say ‘we’ I am assuming that ‘we’ are all doing the right thing!)
BUT, some not-so-good news:
I keep saying that I won’t go out to shop anymore. It’s not worth the risk.
BUT yesterday morning I donned a pair of disposable gloves and braved the fruit market just after 7am. There was hardly anyone there. I grabbed a trolley and piled in fruit and vegetables. Picking up a rockmelon (remember, they’re no longer ‘cantaloupes’?) one finger of a rubber glove was torn. Luckily, I had made doubly sure of safety and anointed my hands with sanitiser as well as wearing gloves!
Despite the higher than normal prices, I managed to buy a decent amount of fresh food for just over $50.
Home before 8am.
These are strange times indeed.
We must keep ‘doing the right thing’. Somewhere there is a tiny light at the end of this long and gloomy tunnel and, hopefully, when we reach it, we will all have a new appreciation of what is important.
Have I mentioned before that, even before COVID-19, I would never, ever, have gone on one of those horrendous cruise ships?
Keep safe. Keep well. Wash your hands.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.