Fear 3: The unknown and intangible

So many questions. This intangible source of fear.

News of COVID-19 started slowly for a couple of months and then burst out in March 2020. COVID-19 arrived with uncertain and unknown risks and predictions.

This intangible virus that brought so much panic. I’ve wondered: what if everyone in the world had sheltered in place for a month in March 2020? Would the world be in the ‘situation’ it is now?

What if we had accepted the uncertainty before us?

Many of us underestimated it assuming that ‘it’ would be all be over within a few weeks. Weeks became months and more months, as 2020 went by.

After a while I stopped watching the data every day. Could it be manipulated or incomplete? For several months, the basic numbers of cases reported, did not include that key question of cases per capita.

I wonder how many people have had a mild case or no symptoms and are not one of the numbers. What do we know about them? How many people have been sick at home to the despair of family unable to find help and medical care for them? How many have died at home, trying to get home, or in a rented room?

Some writers ask if these times are a portal to a new beginning? Or a “sacred time”?

A new beginning depending on how we emerge and how our lifestyles might change? Do we really want to change? Or is part of the fear of COVID-19 a fear of changes to our lifestyle? Questions.

If these are so-called “sacred times”, how do we begin to reconcile with the immense suffering of so many in the pandemic on two fronts?

This intangible source of fear.

Fear of crowded places, sending children to school, or visiting and hugging family and friends.

Fear worldwide and some saying that we are all in this storm together.

Those in Western countries, or with the affluence elsewhere, have sturdy boats in which to weather the storm. With all this waiting, I find myself becoming more content with my own company thinking about life, people, ideas more thoroughly. There is time so my decisions are less hasty. To be honest, I’ve not found the lock down as a time of unhappiness. Rather, a fear that we really don’t know how this will all emerge.

For so many in developing countries without social safety nets, the pandemic and lock-downs have brought more fear of starvation than of the virus. They cling to pieces of driftwood in the storm. Humans are more important than the economy but how do we sustain basic livelihoods for the poor? So many questions.

For those of us adequate money and resources, it could be a sacrosanct time when we have had the luxury of staying in our nice homes and letting our creative fires burn with interesting thoughts and commitment to our inner voices and growth.

So long as we could avoid the virus… How has this time been for the front line health workers in long and difficult conditions, seeing patients suffer and die so isolated from their loved ones. Is it a sacred time for them in constant proximity to death?

Is the virus symbolic of what we have done to the earth? Is it a reprisal from Mother Earth?

Curbing our wanderlust, our drive to socialize, our thirst for adventure. What is this time? Is it sacred? Or is profound better word? It is a thought-provoking time to question where we’ve been and where we’re going.

It is the opposite of the earthquake that plunged me into the moment. Realizing that the earthquake in Nepal rattled our very basic survival instincts and enlivened that reptilian brain to survive.

The pandemic is less reptilian in its mode of working. It requires an intellectual understanding of this unseen, unheard, untasted, un-felt danger that can make you seriously ill or kill you. Its outcome, the disease is very palpable to its survivors and those who cared for them. But, to those of us who have not contracted it, the virus is the indescribable. How do you describe it but in scientific intellectual ways?? How to make it real for so many, especially so that they will take precautions?

How will we look back at this time?

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” Arundhati Roy[1]


[1] https://pnhp.org/news/arundhati-roy-the-pandemic-is-a-portal/   https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

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