These Pandemic Times

A theme that would likely be included in everyone’s MyStory journal or book these days would be how they have endured these Pandemic Times, since around February or March 2020.  Many have suffered deep losses of the heart from losing loved ones to this horrific virus of Covid-19, plus there have been many other repercussions of our having had to live through this pandemic for these past few years, with continuing effects as we move forward.  I invite you to write or otherwise share your Pandemic Times story, focussing on the life changes and lessons you have experienced.

For my own pandemic record, I recognize how my life has changed dramatically since before and after Covid-19 spread as a global pandemic.  I relocated from what I had previously thought would be my long term, near lakeside retirement house, selling my patio home in a small and comfortable resort community to make a Big Move to my high school hometown.  I felt trapped by the pandemic in this small community. People chose not to mask, feeling perhaps overly safe and protected. I even bought 300 masks and distributed them throughout the community, hoping neighbors would choose to help protect one another, but to no avail. (As a daily dogwalker, this mattered to me.)

I took the emerging pandemic very seriously, wanting to stay healthy for the sake of living alone with my cat and my dear diabetic dog Sophie, who relies on me for an unusually special and time-consuming diet. I used Instacart, having all my food and sundries delivered outside my door, and then (at first anyway), wiping down everything that would enter the home.

I had a dream very near the beginning of the pandemic, in which a man entered a semi-darkened theater (with about three or four rows of seating) while those of us seated were watching some video or movie. In front of us he opened a backpack, took out a gun with a long, thin barrel, and proceeded to shoot every one of us, either in the abdomen or in the chest! For me it was the abdomen, and it paralyzed me so that all I could do was watch as he completed his task, then he went into an adjacent kitchen to do his deed there as well.  For a long time this dream haunted me…were we all doomed?  But more recently I wonder if being “shot” could have also been a harbinger of the vaccines to come…

By now I have had all five available shots (plus flu, shingles, and pneumonia), so that I feel like a pin cushion. But I have not (yet anyway, knocking on my oak wood desktop) succumbed to Covid and I intend not to ever do so.

Masks, teaching entirely from home remotely, increasing texting contact with my family and friends, walking Sophie daily, and writing were my havens.  Eventually I realized I would feel more supported and comfortable in my beloved Home Town, where my best friend from high school still lives with her husband and family, and closer to my sister for visiting with her.  Besides, external spiritual community activities I had been engaged with before the pandemic were no longer “in person.” Zoom stepped in—and up!  This was and has been good, but I still am not as happy with online events as with face to face interaction and contact. I mean, you really do not get to look into a person’s eyes with Zoom, though it is very good at expanding networks beyond the local sphere.

So, I moved “during Covid times.”  Still, at the new home I used Instacart and Zoom for a long while to come, masked in public, and have to this day generally avoided large or densely gathered groups.  I finished and published the book I had begun in 2018 (Better Endings, 2022). I continued (still) to teach remotely online for Colorado though not for Ithaca, because the Covid economy crunch led to the department I taught for there being dismantled.

Now, since vaccines have effectively reduced the worst dangers of the pandemic disease, we are still beset by new variants flaring.  I see news reports that suicide rates, substance abuse rates and related deaths are up still. Many of the students I teach have suffered losses of heart and many deal with depression and fears for their future.

Yet we endure.  We share.  Despite a growing polarization of viewpoints, we reach out to one another in our families and communities, aiming to offer solace and a welcoming spirit of neighborly kindness and divine love.  In this, I would simply say, We Are Not Alone. I am grateful for the guidance along the way and for the deepened friendships with family, friends and neighborly folks in my home and spiritual communities.  Perhaps having witnessed the worst of these pandemic times—with enormous loss of life and diminished health factors in all our communities—we (I at least) have come to better appreciate the value of life but also that there is much more than just this life spiritually, so that pursuing one’s spiritual goals and interests is as or more important than simply getting by from day to day.  Love matters, awareness matters, reaching out to others in service is its own reward.

I live near the Buffalo, NY community and its neighborly love values extend far and wide in this region where the “Buffalo Mafia” (Buffalo Bills football fans) means Family.  In a region where heavy snowstorms along the Lake Effect areas have long called family and neighbors to support one another through difficult ordeals, these values of neighborly love have carried through and even intensified during these Pandemic Times. So I feel fortunate to have returned Home to this environment, and I look forward to gradually returning to “in person” life, without masking or cocooning. And yes,…Go Bills!

images are from pixabay.com

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Your story—your uniquely epic MyStory—matters.  As I like to say to my pets, family, friends and students, there has never been and will never again ever be the unique Person that YOU ARE.  If we are spiritual Beings living physical lives (as I do personally believe) then our meaningful stories, our unique life experiences, can be thought of as the Divine experiencing facets of Itself in all the diversity of life’s expression.

So again, I invite you to write your MyStory for the sake of contributing to the archives of Life Itself.  As I am exploring some of my own life theme stories with this current blogspace, I am sorting the stories into thematic files on my computer, adding to the stories as I go, intending to eventually combine the thematic topics as chapters of my own MyStory book. I encourage you to likewise explore and express your own insights and lessons from your invaluable life experiences around your own life themes.

What about you? How have these Pandemic Times affected you and your loved ones, both as challenges
and in terms of your positive lessons gained?