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Life in the Time of Corona

What something as tiny and invisible as a virus can teach us about life

Although the world was hoping for a happy and peaceful year before the arrival of 2020, it has been by far one of the most dreadful years in human history, for it has been, and still is, witnessing catastrophes that have all decided to arrive at the same time, as if the universe were devising a solid plan to retaliate against the human race. With hell breaking loose in Australia with bushfires engulfing the country, international political tension and conflicts between world leaders resulting in the displacement and death of thousands, a lot of people, as well as other creatures, have already had their share of calamities and endured extraordinary levels of agony. But that was not the end of it; here comes the Coronavirus to challenge everybody and remind mankind that no matter how much pain people can cause each other, a small invisible creature can conquer them all, strike fear into the hearts of the most courageous among them and force them to reevaluate their abilities, or rather their utter inabilities and complete weakness.

In a few months, the Coronavirus caused the death of thousands of people around the globe. No matter how healthy, rich or powerful you might be, you’re bound to live in the shades of fear as this new pandemic is spreading and taking lives, not paying heed to any privileges you might have. Who has been infected so far? Low-, middle- and high-class people have. Statespersons, movie stars, princes, in addition of course to the so many ordinary people who constitute the majority of the earth’s population have been infected, and some have already departed. And the human race with all it might, science and weapons has raised the white flag before one single, invisible virus.

Being confused and unable to contain the crisis, several governments took rash measures, chief among which were closing their borders, passing a curfew on their peoples and allowing movement during very limited times in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease. The academic year has been suspended, and universities and schools have been shut down, along with all other places where people can gather and interact: restaurants, cafes, clubs, etc. Suddenly, many of us have found themselves confined to their houses, unable to socialize, do any activities or even go to work. A small invisible virus has unexpectedly turned our lives upside down, and the daily routine within which we used to feel secure has suddenly become a history.

Secluded at home, many have resorted to Facebook to socialize and also vent out in an attempt to express feelings that they can no longer suppress. Facebook posts for the past few weeks have mainly been about the Coronavirus; people have been expressing their panic, sharing posts about the end of the world or finding solace in memes as a type of black comedy. Being confined to the house is a key theme that many Facebook posts have been revolving around, both sad and comic. The conclusion is always that staying at home has become so unbearable. They miss the gatherings, the cafes and laughing with friends. They have to bear up with the kids for longer hours. They have to submit assignments despite the suspension of the academic year.

Despite the destruction the Coronavirus has caused the world, for those who are, thankfully, safe from infection, I think that the current situation gives us a golden opportunity, while secluded, to reevaluate our lives. One thing we can actually learn from this period is to start counting, and appreciating, the so many blessings we’ve always taken for granted and start contemplating instead of complaining. While you’re lamenting the fact that you can no longer leave the house to meet your friends over coffee, someone out there is also unable to leave the house even though they live from hand to mouth, which leaves them heart-broken as in a few days they might not be able to feed their kids. While you’re complaining about how boring life has become and how all days are now the same, someone out there is confined to a hospital bed or a prison cell and have literally become unable to distinguish day from night. While you’re upset with all the assignments you have to submit online, somebody out there wishes they could join university or go to school and receive an education that could grant them a better life. While you’re safe within the “confinements” of your house, someone out there is “confined” outside their house in another country after all the borders have been shut and is now unable to return to their home to feel secure among their family instead of facing their fears alone. While you’re making fun of the fact that you now have to spend much time with your family, someone out there wishes with tears filling their eyes that a parent, a son or a brother could come back to life, that they could feel their touch once more even for a few seconds. While you’re complaining about the fact that you now have to spend more time with your kids and bear up with their nagging and noise and endless demands, someone out there is praying to God in the dead of night to grant them a little kid so they could enjoy the company of the little creature, feel their loving touch and seek assurance in their beautiful innocent laugh, a little kid that could fill the void in their soul. See? There is a lot we could learn about the blessings that we don’t realize we do have and the blessings that we used to have but are no longer here. Have you realized that the noisy streets that have always bothered you were only another sign of liveliness? That the class you would attend reluctantly was more fun than the silence that is now starting to encroach onto your life? That the work that you didn’t want to go to is not as bad as you thought? How much do you now miss kissing your dad’s hand or hugging your mom tightly?

This period of seclusion most of us are now experiencing is a golden opportunity to look back on our lives with a reevaluating eye and start thinking how lucky we are. In addition, since many of us are now spending much time than usual at home, which is, yes, frustrating to a great extent, it’s also an opportunity to make the best use of the time we used to complain we didn’t have. How about you start discovering your hidden talents? How much time does it take you to discover that you’re the world’s top chef or to wake the Picasso inside you? How about reading all the books you’ve been stuffing under the bed with no hope of finding time to read them? Or watching all the movies you’ve been missing on as you would only sleep as you come back home after a long tiring day? How about starting an online course and learning something you’ve always wished to learn? How about trying knitting or doing origami? How about evaluating your relationships, reconnecting with people you haven’t been in touch with for long or reconsidering a relationship that you should’ve ended a long time ago?

It’s true we’re passing through very hard times, but as I always like to think, human beings are always able to turn dust into gold, only if they want to. If we and our loved ones are safe amidst these difficult times, we should be thankful. We should admit that we’re way luckier than many others for whom our hearts melt. May these days come soon to an end, and may you and your loved ones stay safe and happy.

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