The coronavirus is pandemic which means it’s spreading rapidly, the fear and panic it’s generated however substantially exceeds what can be reasonably expected if one gets the illness, and that’s an epidemic.
It’s human nature to want to protect ourselves, families and communities from disease and harm. We surely ought to be washing our hands well, coughing and sneezing into a tissue, but stripping the shelves of toilet paper is panic… this is the flu…it doesn’t come out that way; and stockpiling food in preparation for months of quarantine, or the conspiracy theorists’ predictions of the coming Armageddon is equally ridiculous.
This is flu, stay at home, drink lots of fluids, watch movies, read a book, and for most of us who are not old, sick, or debilitated it will run a non-deadly course. I, on the other hand, have all of the symptoms that make me among the most vulnerable, but I’m actively engaged in life, and not ready to be quarantined, indeed need to get out while I still can.
The best way I know to lighten my mood is to get into my clown spirit; it diffuses anxiety, helps me look at the world from a different perspective, and helps to remind me and those I encounter of our shared humanity.
So yesterday I went shopping to a Safeway store as the Corona Man! I put on my clown nose, a face mask, rubber gloves, a hard-hat that held 2 Corona beers and inscribed with Love Is Contagious. I found people of all ages who were not frightened and withdrawn, but rather were warm, interactive, and wanting to laugh. My spirit soared, made me think even if for a moment that this pandemic could presage a new global awareness. This virus has made it clear to us all that we live in a completely inter-dependent world; it’s not them or us, we are all in this together. If we can face this new plague I’m thinking we can also address what is a far more critical issue in our survival as a species and planet, and that is global warming.
In the meantime, practice good preventive health habits, be compassionate and kind to each other, reach out to your vulnerable and elderly neighbors and ask them if you can pick something up for them on your way to a store. These are the moments in which we dare to imagine that love is more contagious than fear.