Reflections on a Pandemic: Olivia dePunte
Over the past few weeks we reached out across our region to people from all walks of life. We asked them to share their thoughts as they navigate through the pandemic.
Here is one of the essays featured on our Reflections on a Pandemic episode of The Point.
The World is a Magic 8 Ball Olivia dePunte
I think the world is like a magic 8-ball right now: shaken and uncertain. Every one of our lives has been disrupted by this global pandemic. While we do our best to adapt to the new normal, there is one question circulating through all of our minds: When will this end? This unanswerable question leads one’s thoughts down the rabbit hole of: When will we be able to hug our loved ones? Go to grocery markets without masks and gloves? Live without fear? We are all desperate for answers, vague as they might be. If we were to shake a magic 8-ball, with our last hopes clinging to the cheap piece of plastic, I have a feeling that the only answer emerging would be to try again. We cannot let this defeat us.
This break from the routine course of life has given us all an opportunity; a chance for our mentality to grow and flourish rather than plateau. We now know what it is to have every certainty of life be swept from under our feet. It is as if the concrete that we were standing on suddenly gave out, so naturally, we feel like we are falling. By the laws of physics, we had reason to believe that the concrete would always be there to hold us up. We were grounded by the gravity of this fact. Now, we feel as if we know nothing to be a fact or certainty. Everything changed so quickly that the plans we made with friends on Tuesday became unthinkable by Friday.
All of our minds have been opened by the turn of events to the one solid fact of life: change is the only constant. It has made us grateful for all we never knew to be grateful for. I would give anything to go back to how life was before the virus or to have one more day of school. I would relive the days of being blissfully unaware of what my senior year was to become, however, it serves no purpose to dwell on the past or what could have been. We must live day by day, moment to moment. The things we have to look forward to these days are just smaller: a cup of tea in the morning, a walk with our dog, a new book to read. Our reality has become such that the cliche to enjoy the little things in life has become a survival tip.
It is all too easy to lean into the sensation of falling, when every certainty is no longer there to hold us upright, and to let our mentality descend down to a dark place. It is harder to keep in check the anxious or depressed thoughts that flit through our minds with each new piece of news. As with any other kind of growth and development, mental growth takes work.
When everything feels hopeless, we must remind ourselves that kindness and the human spirit is still alive and breathing. When I feel my mentality slipping, I think of the people playing instruments on their balconies in Italy. The sounds are a message of hey we are still here and we are still doing what we love. Music is not cancelled. Compassion is not cancelled, and I see it in all the people grocery shopping for elderly neighbors. We must practice compassion and take care of those in need. A sense of community is all the more important from a distance. There is kindness baked into the muffins dropped off at hospitals for the nurses and doctors who put themselves at risk for the health of others. We must show gratitude to all those on the front lines, especially those working in grocery stores and hospitals. There is love and warmth in the local businesses offering free lunch to kids who depended on food from school. Another unsung hero are the teachers, working hard every day to teach their students from home. The more I look for kindness, the more I see it everywhere. The little signs of kindness are what give me the most hope that life will go on. When our lives feel like they are out of our control, we must remind each other that this will not last forever. Things will shake back into place, and with the magic of kindness, we will try again.