There are warning signs in Jökulsárlón, an Icelandic Glacial Lagoon, that say not to climb on floating glaciers. They are prone to unexpectedly flip due to underlying currents. The water is cold, and you will likely die of hypothermia.
As we walk along the shore, an iceberg makes a creaking sound, exposes its underside, and capsizes. The signs aren’t a lie! In one swift motion, the entire landscape shifts. At first it is odd, incongruous. The scene seems wrong and less beautiful.
A few moments pass and the bottom of the newly exposed iceberg simply belongs. I can’t remember the nuances of what had been. This view is the new normal.
I have similar feelings about the rapid social shift caused by COVID-19 quarantine efforts.
It’s taken me a bit to adjust. I have categorized my thought process into four parts.
Part I. Oh, $#!+
I swear often. This intensified after a State of Emergency was declared for Ohio. Society freaked out. Bought too much toilet paper, or not enough. We started washing our hands fanatically, socially distancing, imposing self-quarantines, following local, state, and CDC guidelines. We tried our best to flatten the curve. The lucky ones among us started working from home on endless conference calls. I longed for a time when I would have said that last sentence with heavy sarcasm. I genuinely feel lucky now. Oh, shit, indeed!
It might not have been pretty, but it happened. It was our fast flip to the new normal.
Part II. Take Stock
How can I, a humble person who has been wearing sweatpants for several weeks, make an impact?
Find ways to give money, time, materials, and brainpower to assist in relief efforts for those impacted by the pandemic:
- Help Local Hospitals.
- GoFundMe – Small Business Relief Initiative (Searchable by Zip Code)
- Research Not-For-Profit organizations, colleges, and businesses who have ways for you to help remotely
- Purchase online gift cards for local businesses
- Define what unique thing you can provide in this situation. Use the stories on this site to fuel creativity
Part III. Stay Weird
The quarantine has taught me that, while introverted, I feel deeply lonely without meaningful in-person connections. I miss hugs. Communal carbs.
Introverts have special weirdo toolkits for thriving solo. We are coded to operate from a space of introspective isolation. We know how to be part of a community while separating ourselves from it. We can share our stories of quarantined mindfulness and facilitate remote collaboration.
My main quarantine focuses have been:
1. Create art.
2. Connect to loved ones:
- Initiate conversations more often
- Video chat with family
- Group text friends
- Social Distancing Socials (set time to talk with neighbors from your porches)
- Schedule virtual breaks with co-workers
- Share my writing, drawings, and photos
3. Find humor and embrace it.
Part IV. Just Breathe
This will pass.
Right now, crocuses and daffodils are blooming. Salamanders slide beneath rain-soaked stones in my front yard. Young robins gather in awkward, blinking herds.
Feel that you exist as part of nature, even if you don’t consider yourself outdoorsy. Find peace in Spring, in seasonal cycles. Stand in the sun, touch the raindrops, sleet, or snow. Listen to birdsongs. Feel we are all connected, even when apart.
Think about the Glacial Lagoon. About the capsizing, car-sized chunk of ice. Has it drifted onto the shore? Or is it still spinning somewhere at sea?
I stare into my little backyard and have turned over every possibility in my mind.
It’s both. It’s neither.
Either way, it will all be OK.