Back in March, COVID-19 debuted across the world. We were instructed to stay-at-home, but no one really knew what to expect from the 2-week experiment. What felt like an eternity then has become our norm today. I wrote this essay on May 28th as a form of stress release. I needed a creative outlet to cope with all of my feelings. There wasn’t much information to collect so I felt like a sitting duck, just waiting for something good to come out of this terrible nightmare we were living through. It’s been about 8 months and we are sort of still where we started, stay-at-home, social distance, wash hands and wear a mask. From March until now (December), I’ve made some shifts in the way I’m processing this pandemic. It’s interesting to see the growth I’ve made over several months and how some of the points I’ve made from the start still resonates with my feelings. From what I’ve gathered, we won’t ever truly be able to say good-bye to COVID-19, but instead we must learn to live with COVID-19 and say goodbye to any negative connotations. I will try to look forward and not allow fear to become my center stage. I’ll continue to wear a mask, wash hands, and now calculate my risk when entering the real world. I realize that human interaction is part of my happiness, that life isn’t perfect and we must continue to roll with it, and most importantly, that self-care holds the utmost importance. Finding things that fill your love tank, whether it’s running, crafting, writing, or waking up early in the morning when everyone is asleep and getting lost in your thoughts. I want to be able to start living life, not wait for life to happen, because life isn’t on pause. If you’re still with me, please take a read on how I’m going to say goodbye to Covid-19.
Have you ever thought about what you’ll do once COVID-19 is behind us? Did you think about traveling, or having a party or a small get together at your favorite restaurant? Going to a remote beach, having endless belly laughs with friends, or not having to do meal prep? Better than winning the lottery! It won’t be long until we have these back, yet I worry that this pandemic has deepened a significant division between all human beings?
During our stay at home restriction, we have the opportunity to reflect, think, and ponder. I notice we can still connect and share our experiences. All over the world, people in Wuhan chanted “stay strong and keep going” as a sense of solidarity. In Italy, rainbows were painted across town reading “everything will be alright” to brighten up their spirits. And in our hometown field, New York City would clap and cheer at 7’oclock when the shifts for the frontline medical workers as a sign of gratitude for all their hard work and dedication. When have we seen this amount of greatness from all over the world? People coming together in hopes of solace. We are all in this together and by staying home we can help flatten the curve and save the human race.
Saying goodbye to the Chinese Virus
Like the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished”. Despite each country trying to find comfort within each area, I’ve experienced heartache, pain, discomfort, stress, and anxiety. It’s hard not to blame someone/something for this horrendous virus. It’s only natural to start pointing fingers because we are reaching for an explanation of this impactful disruption in our lives. How can one event be this damaging and in a matter of days and minutes we are losing a mother, father, a brother, a sister, and a grandmother or grandfather? In casual conversations, people are referring to COVID-19 as the ” Chinese Virus”. And yes, I’m fully aware this virus originated from China but what stigma will it carry if we label it the “Chinese Virus”. Should we name each other by our color, race, or beliefs? Or do we identify ourselves from our given birth name? In 1918, during World War 1, the world was hit with a flu pandemic that lasted over 12 months and ending the summer of 1919. Over 500 million people were infected with a death count of 50 million people. I can imagine what they were feeling is probably parallel to our current situation. The name was given proprietary to Spain because of their disposition in the war and having unbiased information regarding the virus. I fear if we continue to call this a Chinese virus it will allow people to have bias opinions regarding China as a country. Why should we allow ourselves to be susceptible to negative connotations that can’t help our current situation? If we decide to let our minds wander on things we can’t control for example the origin of the virus, we then take away space and freedom to focus on what will make things better. We should focus on how life will work with the virus and how we can battle this disease together. Aren’t we ready to move forward and be more positive?
Saying goodbye to Wet Markets
For many days I would blame the Asian culture and funny enough I’m Asian American. I was frustrated with the idea of wet markets and I couldn’t make sense of having them after we saw the results of being hit with SARS and now COVID-19. What I didn’t know was the history of wet markets and what it carries for many local people. To make it simple, it’s the American version of the “farmer’s market,” minus the live animals. They sell perishable goods, fresh produce, fish, and meat at a discounted price. They call it “wet” because the floors are hosed down after they wash and clean the produce and fish. I quickly learned that in underdeveloped countries, many people use wet markets as their primary source of food. Major supermarkets with different sanitized measures are not available. As more undeveloped towns become westernized, you’ll find a decline in wet markets. Many people would like to see a ban against all wet markets, however, it’s not that simple for the Asian culture. One might argue, if you look at the American culture, we have the highest rate of mass shootings in the world. Since 1982, America has had over 110 mass shootings. Now ask yourself, why don’t Americans have stricter gun control or ban having guns? Again, the solution isn’t easy and uncomplicated. America was settled by explorers who would stake their claim and then defend it as needed, sometimes using guns. It was essential to protect yourself during the Revolutionary War. Americans are now protected by the 2nd Amendment, the right to bear arms. But where do we draw the line in order to save innocent lives from mass shootings? Perhaps, the way we view other people’s culture is the same way they view ours. Moving forward, we should be more open and accepting of different lifestyles. I believe it’s not in our nature to want to harm others for no good reason. Everyone’s best interest includes keeping our community safe and well. We strive to make the right choices in order to limit the number of casualties that may occur based on our culture.
Saying goodbye to race, color, national origin, sex, and religion
When COVID-19 first broke out and it was only seen in Wuhan, China many people around the world had the NIMBY (not in my backyard) mantra. I remembered going to the supermarket and encountering a bus filled with Asian people. They came to the market, took photos, checked out the produce, and shopped. At that moment, my fear kicked into high gear and I was afraid I might get COVID. I quickly went up and down the aisles, gathering any food I thought was untouched by the Asian tour bus. I wanted to get out of there and as I was waiting to get checked out, I felt more stressed. Finally, the cashier saw me and told me to hold on. He quickly went to another station to get gloves before scanning my food. Wait a minute, did this guy racially profile me? Karma couldn’t have come at a better time. It doesn’t matter where I came from, or my current situation, if you are of Asian descent there’s a good chance you might get the side-eye from others. Does it make it right? NO, but are we human, and we are allowed to have fear and anxiety. What scares me most is that as an adult I have these feelings. How are children able to manage and translate all of this? How can we protect them from feeling the same thing? The other day, my daughter shared an interesting story. She was on a Zoom call with friends when one said, “No one is Asian here, besides (my daughter)., right?” She then proceeded, “would you be offended if I say something about Chinese people?” I won’t go into details, but in times like this, I hope my daughter can identify offensive remarks. I don’t blame her for not reacting, but I’m proud of my daughter for sharing something that made her feel uncomfortable. We were not born to hate, in fact, when most children are born, the first three words they hear from a parent is “I LOVE YOU”. As adults, we must say goodbye to fear, anxiety, and blaming others. We all have it, but it can be managed by taking a step back and having empathy towards each other. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. We need to deal with this as one human race because COVID does not discriminate against any type of person. Be mindful of how you speak because your children are listening. They mirror your behavior and actions and in return relay it to their peers. More than ever, we must stand united as one human race. Say goodbye to hatred towards people of a different race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.
Each one of us holds a piece of the puzzle. It’s our opportunity to make a change and be a true hero in this pandemic war. Right now, 2020, we’ll be bonded for life. When you have the opportunity to engage in conversation with someone new, we now have this unique bond that brings us together. We can connect on a different level from something that was experienced all over the world. The universe is telling us to reset, change our mindset, and never stop having hope. This too shall pass and we will come out of this even stronger if we let go of labeling, understanding the complexities of different cultures, and if we begin to view people as human beings with hearts and souls. We all want the same thing, to achieve the utmost happiness we can endure during our lifetime. It might help to see the world from a child’s point of view. From a beginner’s mind, life seems good and exciting filled with joy and love. It is not tarnished with fear and anxiety. Love wins!