The year started just fine, full of new projects, challenges and dreams. From time to time, the news mentioned something about a “new virus in China” and how the World Health Organization suspected that the Asian country was not reporting the reality of the situation.
But China is far away, I would tell my self, and there must be hundreds of new viruses on a yearly basis. Viruses mutate according to time and seasons. This is how they survive, and this is how we adapt to live with them.
Towards the middle of January, the topic became fashionable, mass media reported daily about the number of infected, the symptoms and the dead. Speculation and fake news also began to haunt the virtual world, and then word of mouth around the world.
The collapse is near
Europe saw this far away. And to calm the spirits of those who were beginning to fear, experts and governments said that this was one more flu. Maybe a little stronger if you were in the high risk group, but life had to go on.
Little by little it, cases of people who came from China and were infected started popping up. Italy, France, Spain and Germany, to name a few, tried to contain the the virus, while trying to remain calm.
But Italy collapsed very quickly, followed by Spain and France. Between the second half of March and the beginning of April, almost the entire world (the real world) was in quarantine or in mandatory social distancing. The death toll continued to rise and nearby cases began to be common. It was no longer “the China virus”. Now it was a pandemic.
With more than 190 countries in the world with detected cases (yes, detected, because it is known that the exact number of contaminated people is impossible to determine) and thousands of deaths from crying, all our projects and dreams were suddenly cut short.
In France, we have been in compulsory confinement for 6 weeks. And the roller coaster of emotions has marked each day of this process. How do you experience a pandemic, a confinement? Many of us have never experienced such a situation.
As difficult as our socio-political and economic situations can be (and in many cases it is terribly hard), adding a quarantine condition is something absolutely new.
Gushing with emotion
I have cried, I have laughed, I have been afraid and I have felt calm. I’ve been through so many moods these days that I surprise myself.
But if this situation has taught me anything, it is that really keeping a cool head is difficult, but necessary, and that having and being part of a solid support network is essential to survive.
In 6 weeks I have discovered the generosity of many and the apathy of others. And I have also concluded that governments matter, good governments help, and bad governments do more harm than the virus itself.
I have verified how the union really makes strength, and that helping and donating cannot be “what I have left over”, but what others need and I can offer.
What have I learned in these weeks?
I must accept that it is okay to cry, but you also need to know how to smile. Asking for help is as important as offering it, and we all need help to some degree. It can be emotional, economic or social. Anything goes and everything counts.
I have also learned to drop loads. I have seen, once again, that letting things flow sometimes brings better results. The most important thing for me is to see that I live surrounded by a wonderful family that even from a distance is completely devoted. That friends are friends wherever they are. And surely this pandemic will change our lives.
I only hope that we will be able to make the best of it, and help those who will not have it so easy to the last consequences. The crisis does not end on the day that we can go outside, but on the day that we all have a roof and a hot plate on the table, and the day that we understand that this is the opportunity to rethink so many things as a society. Perhaps our generation never has another similar opportunity to reinvent itself.