10/15/2020

On being … a dose of pandemic wisdom

 By Ingrid Sapona

I don’t know about you, but I’ve really enjoyed some of the pandemic-related funnies folks have circulated. One friend of mine was a particularly diligent forwarder of Covid-humour those first few months. I have no idea where he got them all, but he sent a weekly compilation every Friday. The emails tapered off when he returned to the office, but he’s recently revived the mailings (in honour of the second wave, I think).

Three from his latest batch struck particular chords with me and – like all good humour – got me thinking. The first one was this tongue-in-cheek comment on hindsight:

Besides putting a smile on my face, the comment brought into focus a couple of realizations. First is the simple truth that back in March, few among us would have imagined that in October we’d still be missing some of simple things we once enjoyed (like the happy-go-lucky freedom of eating out). In an odd way, the joke also speaks to another realization I’ve come to as I’ve observed subtle changes in peoples’ behaviour of late. As the numbers of COVID cases have been going up again, more than a few of my friends have mentioned things they’re doing now, “before things get closed down again”. They’re going to get their hair cut, for example, and stocking up on “essentials” they fear might soon be in short supply. In other words, they’re ordering dessert while they have the chance! Of course, the reason this simple funny comment rings true is because of the life lesson at the heart of it: make the most of today because no one knows what changes tomorrow will bring.

And, for those prescient few – I’ll call them the Covid-whisperers – who might claim they realized early on that the rest of 2020 would be pretty much a write-off, consider this gem of pandemic comic wisdom:

I’ll bet it applies to the Covid-whisperers too…

But on a serious note, I imagine that for some it reinforces a belief that five-year plans are a waste. For other, perhaps it brings to mind the famous stanza in Robby Burn’s poem “To a Mouse” about the best laid schemes… What I thought of when I read it is not the folly of planning where you’ll be in five years. I say chart away and set sail – but do so knowing that the most important skill you’ll need is the ability to adapt!

And finally – this last one I love because it’s both sweet and profound:

Like many, over the course of the pandemic, I’ve reflected on how I’m coping and I’ve read about how others are coping. For folks who’ve remained healthy, it seems that how they’re coping has a lot to do with their economic situation and with the day-to-day tasks they have to juggle. For many women with families there’s a lot of pressure related to keeping children engaged and it’s a lot of work getting groceries and preparing meals day in, day out for the gang. On the flip side, some who live alone – especially seniors – are having a rough time because they feel socially isolated. By comparison to many, I feel very fortunate that I’ve not felt much stress or anxiety because of the pandemic. About the worst I can report is frustration about not being able to make plans to see my sisters for the holidays.

I loved the photo because it’s cute and clever. I think visualizing the pandemic as mud that we’re all struggling to get through is quite apt. And the depth of the mud is a good metaphor for the difficulties and challenges brought by the pandemic. The picture reminds us that that no one will be able to say how deep the mud is until we’re out of it. And even then, the depth will be relative to each of us.

But what I like best about the picture is the hope it represents. To me it shows that regardless of our size and shape, with dogged determination we can come out of the mud standing tall and strong (if a bit dirtier for the ordeal).

© 2020 Ingrid Sapona