The BENEFITS of Coronavirus (No. 2)

Two weeks in self-isolation now, it’s interesting to reflect on the BENEFITS we’re getting from CV (why has no one else abbreviated it to this yet…?).

Written at the start of self-isolation, my previous blog (‘The BENEFITS of Coronavirus’) written at the start outlined several benefits – reduction in global carbon emissions, technology innovation, re-discovering old skills, undertaking new skills, completing projects you had been putting off.  Here are some more benefits that have emerged after two weeks of personal experiences.

  1. Increased recognition of the value of local community

I’ve never seen so many neighbours actually in the street!  And we talk to each other (at a distance of course!)!  And conversations are longer, since time is no longer short.  With many people working (or not) from home, schools effectively shut by parents taking their children out, people wanting to spend time outside since they have so much time at home inside, neighbours are everywhere, smiling, waving, talking, helping.  We’re meeting neighbours we’ve never known.  We’re learning facts and situations we didn’t know about.  We’re seeing rapidly increasing pride in garden and lawn maintenance.  We’re getting joy just from walking down our street, and on our local walks.

  1. Appreciating a simpler life

Some say it is ‘surreal’.  Partly this is due to enjoying a simpler life.  There’s less traffic.  Parking is easy.  There’s less traffic noise – it’s almost like being in the country.  We hear the birds more clearly – and notice there are lots of them!

Meals have become ‘occasions’, not just rushed fuel between social events.  Cooking and enjoying simple meals have become highlights of the day.  Breakfast in bed, lunch outside on the deck, 2-course dinners with music and games we used to play – Scrabble, backgammon, Chinese checkers.

Gardening is major part of most days –for the physical activity, but also for the pure enjoyment of the dirt, the flowers, the trees, the bird feeders, bird baths, the seasonal changes.  We are SO glad we haven’t downsized!  It’s enabled our children to want to bring their children to play in our yard, since they don’t have so much space.

Strangely, we seem barely able to achieve all the things we want to do in a day…even though all of our regular activities (art, tennis, gym, choir, bridge, theatre, French, childminding) have stopped.  While time actually goes slowly, it also seems to go quickly, while actually becoming less relevant – who cares what the time is, especially in daylight saving.

Indeed, it is ‘surreal’, as we try to understand what is actually going on to our lives and how long this ‘temporary’ (as we currently see it) period will last.  (My prediction:  total lockdown for 2-3 months with gradual re-emergence – watch Wuhan and China to see the future from strongly disciplined CV management.)

  1. Improved overall health

We’re fixated on the number of CV infections (currently just over 2,000 in Australia) and deaths (currently 8, yes only 8…).  Over 200,000 people got the flu in Australia last year with over 400 dying…and we hardly worried about it.  Global figures tell the same story – the flu has been much more impactful on people than CV in every country!

But now we are all washing our hands regularly and more effectively than before.  We are all (mostly) keeping physical distance between us.  We are self-isolating, with only a fraction of the daily social contacts we used to have.  It’s inevitable that this will lead to many fewer flu cases this year, many fewer colds, many few transmitted diseases of all kinds (would you go on a Tinder date now and, even if you would, where would you go??)

When we walk, the air seems fresher now.  Anecdotal, but quite likely accurate, since there is much less traffic…so less air pollution…so less respiratory diseases…and so on.  We are likely to be much healthier this year than in all recent years – despite CV!!

The future:  permanent or temporary benefits…?

Perhaps these are just temporary benefits.  Perhaps when(ever) (if) this is over, we will go back to our old lifestyles.  But I’m betting we’ll take a while before we want to get into planes in such large numbers.  I’m betting visas will be re-introduced, making travel much harder.  I’m betting travel costs will zoom up as the number of airlines falls.  I’m betting that, with less disposable income and many people unemployed, less of us will be able to afford to travel or afford luxuries.  I’m betting that, experiencing the joys of the simpler lifestyle, the joys of (some aspects of) ‘community’, experiencing improved health, moving to online enjoyment, it will take a long time (5 years or more?) for our ‘old’ lifestyle to re-emerge.  It might be worth investing more in these current benefits.  They may become more permanent elements of our lives.


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