I was pottering around as usual around dawn. I have a patch for Irish potatoes, where I added some green manure the other day. Lo and behold! I saw some pumpkin seeds sprouting. So, up they came with a mini trowel and I have a little wall garden that’s ideal for them–about 5–and placed another couple adjacent to the potatoes. So, we’ll keep our eyes on them.
Looking around more, I couldn’t ignore the hibiscus which are always there.
≈ Comments Off on Lenten reflections 2020-23: The only constant is change-#COVID19 turns the world on its head, but it’s still on its axis
The world is adjusting to a completely new reality with the spread of the pandemic #COVID19 (once termed Novel Coronavirus), and many people are not comfortable with that.
In rethinking my way to where I am now, it’s obvious that nothing stayed the same; my life has involved a lot more change than for many others. I have migrated several times. I’ve married twice. I’ve been a father twice. My parents have lived and died. I’ve lived in many different places; rented homes for short and long periods; owned my own homes; been a landlord. I’ve had no money; I’ve had lots of money; I made big financial gains; I’ve suffered big financial losses. I’ve had a major operation for a chronic illness. I’ve seen my children fight for their lives at a very young age, including at birth. Plenty more can go into the pot called ‘change’.
Standard thinking about causes of life stress is that they commonly include the following:
The view is that each is a major stressor and any combination is extremely stressful. I’ve had many of these combined.
I don’t relish stress, but have tried for many years to be aware of its approach and tried to fend it off. Some physical things help, like yoga; otherwise, it’s about mental preparation and a certain toughness.
Few things make people fearful like the sense of vulnerability; being exposed to danger is what many want to avoid. Danger isn’t like a scene in a film when someone comes crashing through a door brandishing a weapon and you’re there trapped against a wall. Danger is seeing the car flash through the red light as you enter the junction and realize its heading for you. Danger is walking along a cliff edge and stepping on a piece of mud and slipping close to that edge. Danger is dropping a carving knife in the kitchen and seeing it fall, point downward, toward your foot and almost in slow motion seeing it hit or miss. Your heart races. You sweat. You gasp. You give a sigh of relief that you’ve survived.
The current situation has many elements that people don’t like, not least not being able to see the source of the danger; not knowing whether it’s present or not.
Jamaica was declared a disaster area last Friday (March 13–propitious), since when the government has put in place a range of restrictions on individuals and organizations regarding congregating, hoping that more people staying at home will minimize the spread of the virus. One area has been locked down/community quarantine, after it was found to be where ‘patient 1’ who tested positive lived for a while. For most, this is a totally new situation where they have to accept that they are not at liberty to use their liberty. I am not going to say I know this situation, but I have been in similar ones before for some varying periods of time. It’s very discomforting to think you may be the target of a sniper (Washington area 2001), or the target for a bombing (London; IRA bomb threats 1969-97), or a new international terrorism attack (USA, UK, France, and others in years since September 11, 2001). But, for some that is better than facing an unseen natural enemy that attacks the body.
Jamaica has done what many other countries have done, and our restrictions are not the most strict, by any means. Yes, people can be fined or jailed for breaking certain restrictions. Many countries have closed borders, partially or totally; Jamaica has a partial closure (but so far has left the gate open to the USA, even though it’s showing less action than many others of containing the virus). People arriving from overseas may face 14-day quarantine if coming from place that have ‘community (local) spread’
But, in Italy, Spain, France and Luxembourg, for instance, national lockdowns are in place, and in some cases people have been forbidden to leave their homes or go outside without special permission.
Moist people seem to understand the gravity of the situation and try to comply, maybe with a lot of complaints. Some, as usual, don’t appear to care or exercise selfish exceptionalism (eg by not declaring honestly from where they have come to avoid quarantine–which is simply being prepared to put everyone else at risk for personal convenience). We’ve seen videos of young people ignoring the urge not to congregate and partying like it’s 1999: spring breaks, for ever, dude.
In Jamaica, we’re relatively lucky because some of the panic seen elsewhere in shops, for example, doesn’t seem to have reached here. Many people have heeded the suggestion to work at home, if possible. Schools were closed from last week, and parents and families are adjusting to that and online classes. Practicing ‘social distancing’ has been common and self-directed; even at our dining table, we are about 1 metre apart. I’ve been out on the golf course a couple of times with friends and keeping your distance is not that difficult.
People are practising better hygiene: our house has sanitizer and tissues by our front door; I have that and rubbing alcohol in my car; I wiped down the golf cart thoroughly before using it, etc. Greetings are now modified–no hand shakes or hugging.
I like to put my hand on my heart, a local greeting that I often used before.
We’ve seen the creation of new business paradigms, and it’s going to continue. Home deliveries or kerb-side pickups instead of buying ‘in place’, for example. The sudden realization that meeting remotely can be done, though it needs many adjustments; no one is really ready to just hop on a plane to meet other people. Some, of course, don’t get it and insist on forcing employees to make unnecessary choices about being ‘in the workplace’ or being at home. Hopefully, that will soon change.
Other social settings are changing, and some are rediscovering ‘family’ and ‘community’, and realizing that the bonding is about intent and not necessarily how and where. We have a neighbourhood Whatsapp group and I’ve noting how it seems to have morphed into a sort of area-wide ‘talking over the fence’ group, even though many don’t know each other personally, we’re getting closer.
But, change is to be embraced, and though we cannot do that to each other freely now, we should look forward to doing it again, and soon. Positives are always there, though not always easy to find. I had a long argument with my mother-in-law some days ago because she thought the world would spiral down into mental depression; I countered that people’s resilience and ability to fight that is strong. Economies may go into tail spin and supplies may start to get stretched, but ingenuity is something to start to remember is there to help solve many problems. Times like these test people’s patience more nowadays, having forged a world of fast if not immediate gratifications. Waiting isn’t what people like, but get used to it.
One thing I cherish about gardening is knowing that things take time to give you results and often nature cannot be rushed. So, I look to my plants and see them grow a little more each day, or start to wither and need help of replacement. So, I try to look at those around me and nurture them a little each day. People readily run to ‘cabin fever’ concerns and I smile; I’ve been a stay-at-home father for a long time so it’s not a big deal to be home all day (I love it!). I love my home and I’m rarely happier than when I am where that place is. Fortunately, we have a houseful of people and we have what we need to eat and drink. We have entertainment, even if if that is each other, and we have our love for each other. We have our faith and its different dimensions.
Our glasses are not half-empty, but at least half-full and in some cases, overflowing. Enjoy the blessings you have.