During the current coronavirus pandemic, we are facing a novel paradox. Behavior that was appropriate in the past and even praiseworthy, is now viewed as wrong, dangerous, forbidden, perhaps even criminal and life-threatening to ourselves and others.
This is difficult to comprehend, internalize and implement.
We are told to: Follow the rules. Keep your distance. Stay at home.
However, by nature we are social beings. Our instinct and past experience tells us to reach out to others, to hug our grandchildren, to help those in need. Those are all appropriate, admirable, commendable actions. Or at least they used to be.
I am in a quandary. I am tempted to break the rules, but I am afraid. The ubiquitous virus is invisible, yet potentially lethal. By trying to act in a way that was appropriate in the past, by trying to help others, will I actually be causing them harm?
I don’t know.
I try to find safe ways to circumvent the dire restrictions.
I sit outside with my elderly neighbor who lives alone – more than two meters apart. She is my knitting mentor and I bring her the baby blanket I am working on to fix. I tried to start the new velvety-soft ball of yarn on my own according to her instructions but messed up. I left it for a few days and cleaned my hands with alco-gel before picking up the knitting bag and visiting her. We sit in her yard as the sun struggles to break through the armor of grey clouds. It feels good to see her in person and talk to each other.
My daughter who lives nearby brings the grandchildren to visit, two at a time. She parks in front of my house and they stay in the car. I stand above them in the front yard, imprisoned behind the bars of the brown wood fence. We pantomime hugs and air kisses. I throw a bag of arts and crafts materials I found in the closet to them. I miss them a lot. It feels wonderful to see them in person.
I find another excuse to get out of the house. I volunteer to deliver medicine for our local pharmacy with my sister. She drives and I sit in the back, with the windows open. We wear masks and gloves. She follows Waze to find the address and I fill out the form for each delivery. We leave the bags by the door and wave from a distance when they open the door. This, too, feels good.
I miss getting together with friends for coffee or lunch at a restaurant and hosting family members for meals.
I have an idea. The food industry continues to function and there are many options to order take-out food. If they can do it, I can do it. I could cook some special meals and deliver to friends and family. That seems to be a permissible way to deal with the dilemma. I know it will definitely feel good. Perhaps the most difficult thing for me right now, which is putting me over the edge, is not being able to swim. For a person who swam almost every day pre-Corona, this is really torture for me. My Hydrochic bathing suit calls out to me from my drawer: “Take me. Take me. Why are you not putting me on and heading for some lap swimming?!” I wish. I wish. My body craves a vigorous, refreshing swim. Anywhere would be fine – an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a lake, an ocean. My bathtub just isn’t doing it for me! I’m trying to go for walks and do exercise work-outs at home, but I’m a swimmer at heart and I’m experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental. I cannot wait until it will be safe to swim again.
by Shira Schreier