Reflections on…. living through a global pandemic.

First off, that’s a title for a blog post I never thought I’d write.

Secondly, how ENORMOUS is that virus image? I thought about changing it/ scaling it down but have decided it’s an apt metaphor for how this virus has taken over the world… ergo: the image takes over the page. 

It’s been roughly two years since covid-19 “officially” became a global pandemic, certainly enough time to sit back and reflect – and as it happens, I’ve been indulging myself in observation and musings for several weeks now.

This morning we were lucky enough to start the day with a walk along our local beach, where there were plenty of happy dogs running about, people stopping to chat to each other, some die-hard surfers doing their best to find waves on a non-surf beach, and local humans generally in good spirits, moving about with relative freedom – albeit with masks at the ready.

What struck me is that whilst this landscape looked similar to BC times, there is an undercurrent to daily life that simply didn’t exist at the start of 2020.

At the beginning of the pandemic (here in New Zealand), we felt like we came together as a nation – and we were a team of five million, uniting against the spread of the virus.

As the BBC put it here, relying on science and empathy.

Lockdown 1.0 (as we so affectionately named it) was filled with incredible things:

  • We saw people taking time to walk their neighborhoods (often for the first time ever) and we put teddy bears in our windows for wandering families.
  • People created Facebook groups showcasing NZ brands to support local.
  • We encouraged people to buy vouchers for local cafes and restaurants, to keep businesses thriving in uncertain lockdown conditions.
  • The government rolled out support packages to encourage employers to retain staff.
  • We told each other to check in with the old and vulnerable in our neighborhoods.

Here in my neighbourhood we were even graced with the cycling opera singer, prompting people to lean out their windows and balconies to cheer.

2+ years in, the world, and our little corner of it – looks and feels vastly different. 

As the lockdowns persisted, the people of Aotearoa (much like the rest of the world) have become tired, confused and irritable.

We began wondering (worrying) about the future, and today our news feeds are filled with divisive rhetoric, and stories designed to pit us against each other.

And whilst it’s true that unemployment is lower that its been since pre-GFC days all it takes is a look at our front page news to see where the hearts and minds of kiwis currently lie.

Yes its newsworthy that a self-proclaimed prophet was arrested for allegedly breaching bail conditions after a charge of attending and organising a protest in breach of alert level 3 restrictions – but do we really need to give this individual and his followers so much airtime? 

What about the other anti-vax/”vaccine hesitant” voices enjoying an enhanced platform to share their views? Freedom of choice is important, but when these individuals make up such a proportionally small percentage of the population, you can’t help wonder if these articles are being intentionally published to simply rile people up and get more interaction/ more views (and therefore more revenue)

You can’t blame the  news articles for that right? Right?

Well lets think about that.. we are what we consume. Be that food, music, art or media. If we are constantly being fed negativity and divisiveness instead of the full story of what’s happening in the world – how will that make us feel? What does prolonged exposure to negativity do to our brain?

Obviously not everyone has the time and/or ability to step back and review or analyse what they’re consuming (and how it makes them feel) because humanity is exhausted.

But now, more than ever, we need the good news stories – we need to know about the acts of kindness in our communities, the people caring for and thinking of each other – we need a voice for those that are taking the time to care so that we can reconnect with our communities and each other.

We know now how prolonged stress makes us feel. We’re NOT at our best right now – so perhaps we need to remember some of that lockdown 1.0 kindness.

If you can feel your blood pressure rise reading mainstream articles, or you start grinding your teeth when tuning into the 6pm news – perhaps its time to turn off/ tune out and tune back in with yourself.

We are what we consume after all, and if we don’t stop clicking on those negative and divisive headlines, the stories will not evolve. So maybe show those algorithms what you really want to see? 

Far be it for me to give advice on the internet, but if you’ve made it this far I’ll share something that has helped me navigate the sh*tshow that is the global pandemic: Gratitude.

It takes practice if this is not something you’ve done before, costs you nothing yet can change everything.

I’d start here – take 2 minutes to remember and articulate the good things that came out of this pandemic, it could be little things like:

  • No commute! No work clothes!
  • Learning to cook. (sourdough anyone?)
  • Rediscovering music and fav movies.
  • Watch parties and zoom calls with friends (this would have never have happened previously)
  • TV chat shows via video chat, bringing a realness to media we’ve not previously seen.
  • The incredible freedom that we’ve enjoyed in NZ, comparative to other nations.

Or perhaps we should just turn off socials and get out in our neighbourhoods again.

If the past few weeks have shown me anything, its that whilst there aren’t as many teddy bears lounging in NZ in windows – there are still people out and about, trying to make the most of this incredible NZ summer, and as cheesy as it sounds – a smile and a kind word go a long way.

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