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Quarantine: What Does It Mean?

The missing mindset and survival skills for when the whole world must remain inside during quarantine

And just like that the world as we know it has changed, shifted, and responded to something that came in like a lion with no introduction. Pandemic, Corona, COVID-19 the virus that has the power to halt world travel, ignite climate change, quarantine, and unprecedented hygiene. The virus that leaves us without a hug or handshake to cushion the blow or allow us to mourn the loss of life as we knew it. How will we “get through this”? How will we continue to distance ourselves from friends, travel, and the simple act of gathering? Quarantine, what does it mean when we face much more than a virus?

Here we are week three and it is almost difficult to remember, what specifically and officially necessitated quarantine, and dare I say “social distancing”. What I do remember, is the step by step closing of schools, businesses and the initial serenity surrounding the suffering. I live down the street from two Parks/Playgrounds. During the first week, it absolutely warmed my heart to see couples, families and individuals out walking, talking and smiling. It was similar to the taste of freedom when school is out for the summer. There was a surreal suspended state of belief around the concept of time. Time to walk, talk, and be with loved ones. Who knew this would spiral into such a shut down. Within a week our city of Boston was shut down and instead of strolling and smiles during the more innocent phase, suspicion creeped in. Who is hoarding toilet paper, masks and Purell? What is under that mask and should he/she be wearing it? Was that a cough? Corona, much more than a virus, 6 feet between you and me. How will that distance affect us going forward? 

Some of the visuals of the virus: an elderly woman cracking her window open to talk to the mailman after refusing to accept/touch her mail that required signing. A group of 5 musicians gathered along the Charles River (with the 6 feet in between them), who played a John Williams piece for me since I applauded their last song while jogging. Policeman standing outside a Starbucks with a homeless man, and the store owners behind the counters of empty stores. The empty space in between us that now gets filled with a smile, a wave, or a look of “we are in this together”. More than a virus!

There is a heaviness in my chest as I write this, accompanied by a gulp in my throat and tears running down my face. Feelings anything like this lead to more internal questioning….will I get sick or anyone in my home? What if the hospitals can’t take me and how will our Medical Professionals survive and sustain these frightening front lines?

When the elderly people in my life say “we have not seen anything like this” and you pause to consider epidemics, wars, holocausts, and environmental disasters. Where does the virus fit (I find myself avoiding saying the word “Corona”, it makes me nauseous actually…)? Where do we mentally house this enemy and for how long?

The musicians I stopped to listen to, were kind enough to let me into their circle of music. They said they would play one more song just for “this purpose”. This purpose? Not sure what exactly that meant, but for a moment our distance shortened. When I asked if I could ask them a question, mind you this was the first “gathered” group of 5 that I had encountered in weeks: I asked, what is it about us Bostonians,..what does it mean to be “Boston Strong” and out here today? One of the musicians humbly replied “trying to lead the way”. Jared his band mate replied, “just out here making “joyful noise”. Is that the magic potion or the remedy to the virus that knows no vaccine? Together we vaccinate ourselves and our loved ones with joy, spirit, music, and the gift of our time, together in our homes, hopefully building an immunity to what is much more than a virus.

“Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the window which hope has opened”- Charles Spurgeon 

Donna Ognibene has been described as a world class master trainer, passionate teacher, creative innovator and community advocate. While she is all that, her natural talent is in bringing out the best in people. Donna lives in Belmont Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs. 

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