I am an extrovert.
On Social Media, introverts had the first laugh about social distancing, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders being the things they prepared for all their lives.
Next came the writers and artists who necessarily do their meatiest work at home, often choosing self-isolation when deadlines loomed near.
Then, the extroverts called for help. “Introverts, you may want to check on your extrovert friends. We are not okay.”
We are told repeatedly online and in-person about the dire need to quarantine if you have symptoms and stay at home, limiting outings as much as possible. Aside from those you live with, handshakes, hugs, any contact within six feet is considered a risk, as so many of us might be carrying the coronavirus without realizing it.
It is devastating.
Cases in Stanislaus County are growing slowly, but by and large, it is still possible to not know anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, we feel the pinch socially, emotionally and financially.
Socially, obvious enough. If we knew we needed relationships before or in contact with others outside the home, that need is so much more clear now. Conversation, physical touch, face-to-face interactions cannot be replaced by social media. Not even video chats can quite compare to the pleasure of, as Arnold Lobel described Frog and Toad, “They sat there, feeling happy together.”
Digital communication generally requires us to talk about something or perform in some way. In-person, we can stare at the same sky, observe the same people, feel the same breeze.
There is a loss.
Which leads me to ask, emotionally, how are you?
I mean, really, how are you?
If you are an extrovert or surrounded by children, you might be feeling some additional anxiety.
If you are home taking in the news and following the COVID-19 threads, you might be feeling some additional anxiety.
If your income is about to take a hit because your employer cannot provide paid time off or because you’re in the commission-only business or you have to lay off your employees because if you cannot pay rent you will lose your business, you might be feeling some additional anxiety.
If you are part of or caring for someone or love someone who is part of the identified vulnerable population, you might be feeling some additional anxiety.
What does all this say about the world? Where is this all leading? Where are our social buffers? Where is our spiritual comfort?
In times like these, with our usual supports out of alignment, you might even be feeling a little bit depressed.
There is a crisis taking place in the world, and unfortunately, the effort to slow down the spread, to flatten the curve, so hospitals do not become overloaded as we saw in Italy, has its own costs.
I want to ask you to take an honest look at what those costs are in your own life. Maybe right now means Netflix and sleeping in. Or maybe it means something much harder.
Somehow, I think some good is going to come out of these dark times.
Yesterday, overwhelmed with the anxiety of caring for my needy newborn, of working from home at the same time, of uncertain income, I got on my bike for the first time in a year.
The streets are clear because more people are at home. I rode as fast as my legs could carry me.
Home again, I got out a book, the book that brought me back to reading four years ago.
And the baby got a pacifier for the first time.
Then that very night, she slept for six hours.
In the morning, I drank coffee with my husband.
Somehow, some good will come, even if it feels a long time getting there.
If you can, try to find meaning in the moments, in the little goods that crop up here and there. Begin that gratitude journal again. Watch the rain. Draw in chalk on your sidewalk. Reach out for a telephone session with a therapist if anxiety or depressive symptoms are starting to interfere with your daily duties.
Have daily duties.