Holding on to the Unexpected Gifts from COVID-19
on June 18th, 2020
Massive cancellations, mounting death tolls, a troubled economy, social distancing. The COVID-19 pandemic has been full of unwanted surprises as we learn to navigate our new, and hopefully temporary, normal. Yet amid the lost jobs and mask mandates, sits a treasure trove of unexpected gifts. From more time with loved ones to the opportunity to slow down the pace of our bustling lives, many of these gifts are things we have been yearning for all along. Here are a few special little things COVID-19 has us along the way:
A New Wave of Creativity
From Broadway stars living around the world singing in unison on a video conference to children decorating their windows with pictures of rainbows, instances of creative expression are everywhere. Senior citizens have learned TikTok dances, drive-by parades have become a favorite way to celebrate birthdays. Kids have created stunning sidewalk art using nothing but chalk and tape. Now seems like a great time to try to learn a new instrument or reconnect with one’s love for needlepoint as well.
Even the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has inspired innovation and artistry. Major League Baseball Jersey manufacturer, Fanatics, halted their standard production in favor of making face masks with jersey materials for those in need. Anheuser-Busch, among other distilleries in the nation, found ways to produce hand sanitizer, a coveted pandemic item these days.
The pandemic provoked intense feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion, while also offering the freedom to get those feelings out in expressive ways. This gift is one that will hopefully carry on, long after the pandemic has ended.
More Time Under One Roof
With many employees working remotely and schools closed, families are spending more time together than ever before. Parents are experiencing the complicated “wonders” of Common Core math as they help their children navigate virtual lessons, and children have a unique opportunity to see their telecommuting parents at work. These observations may contribute to parents and children each having a better understanding of their daily lives.
While it may come with some challenges, this gift of togetherness means families have more opportunities to enjoy each other’s company without the hustle and bustle of their normally jam-packed schedules. This is to say nothing of the joy pets are experiencing now that their favorite humans are home all the time. My seven-year-old Boxer with degenerative myelopathy (canine ALS) is thrilled I’m “stuck” at home with him and the feeling is mutual. Due to his condition, his lifespan is limited and I’m thankful I get to spend the bulk of my day by his side.
A Call to Examine What’s Important to Us All
The disruption of the pandemic has inadvertently caused more free time – time we can pursue interests or activities we otherwise might not have. Some people have taken up exercise again and look forward to daily walks. Others (myself included) finally paused to read a book.
However, in freeing up time, the pandemic has also demonstrated what a precious resource time can be. In its way, COVID-19 is challenging us to answer the question: When schedules resume their typical fast pace, how will time, our most precious resource, be spent? My hope is that we will spend much less time on the things we feel we “have” to do, and more time on the things we love to do. The pandemic will inspire us to find our joy and make space to relish in the delightful activities that bring joy in our hearts.
Amplified Appreciation of Connection
We’ve all heard the phrase, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and that couldn’t be more accurate at this very moment. The hug from a friend, the simple joy of a date night, a family dinner at grandma’s—these are all things we miss. We all crave connection. Thankfully technology has helped bridge our prescribed social distance. Zoom happy hours, Netflix watch parties, and virtual game nights attempt to fill that void.
As someone who lives alone, I appreciate my daily interactions with my neighbors more than I did before the pandemic. In a way, I feel much closer to my neighbors since we’re all going through this crisis together.
Look a little closer and you will see the gift in mandatory social distancing: the limitations put on us today are the very limitations that are amplifying our appreciation of connection tomorrow.
Cherish These Gifts
When life feels bleak and the stress insurmountable, take a moment to write down the COVID-19 gifts in your world. This way, when life resumes to whatever normal awaits, you can reflect back on these gifts and keep them close to your heart.