COVID-19 Won’t Steal My Joy or Yours - America's Future Foundation

March 16, 2020

Culture

COVID-19 Won’t Steal My Joy or Yours

By: Lydia Pitea

I know, I know, you don’t need another COVID-19 blog post telling you it’s all going to be alright. 

That’s not my goal. To be clear, I’m the last person who would write that. I’m just as scared as everyone else. I’ve stocked up on food and medicine just in case. My office is prepared for telework. 

Despite this, as the planner, type 1 Enneagram person I am, I still want more action items. 

What I really need is a healthy dose of joy. 

You Can be Scared and Still Have Joy
My disclaimer is that I’m not making light of the coronavirus. As with climate change deniers and criers, somewhere in the middle is likely the best place to be. 

I know people are dying. People are mourning loved ones and worried for the ones in hospitals hooked up to machines. I have friends with immune deficiencies, friends whose lungs are weak from beating cancer, and my own parents are in their mid-sixties. People are scared, and these fears aren’t unfounded.

What I am hoping to do is to remind everyone that there is still joy amidst this situation. There are still laughs to be had, memories to make, and a silver lining. There almost always is. You just have to look for it. 

So what is my silver lining for COVID-19?

I see this weird time as a way to dig in and rediscover some cool things we may have forgotten about or gotten out of practice in doing. Things that make life full and genuinely bring joy to our hearts.

Rediscover How to be Outside
My hope is that with coronavirus canceling all concerts, shuttering public gathering spaces like libraries and museums, boxing out sporting events, and postponing many other festivals and celebrations (I’m sorry about people trying to get married, I truly am!) is that we will look to the only safe place for people to be in small groups together: outdoors. 

Now I live in the DMV and we have some amazing hikes: Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls, anywhere in the Shenandoah Mountains, and for people who like to walk or ride, the trail leading to Mt. Vernon is idyllic. Maybe the outdoors will offer a less uncertain option for eating out at restaurants or going to the gym or other fitness studios.  

Look to the outdoors for picnics with family, hikes, and lunchtime walks for exercise, and to not go crazy from being cooped up inside your house. 

My biggest hope though, is that looking to nature and seeing the beautiful spring will lift our spirits and remind us that there is rebirth and newness every morning. 

The world is still beautiful, the sun still feels amazing on my skin, and flowers still smell sweet. And for my DC friends, maybe this year we will get to enjoy the cherry blossoms without 1.5 million tourists crowding us out. 

Rediscover How to Be Intentional
My second big hope is that we rediscover how to be intentional in our relationships. 

COVID-19 has shut down everything. We cannot gather in the ways we are accustomed to. Now we could allow the coronavirus to simply keep us from many of the people we usually interact with. It would be easy for us introverts especially. But I challenge us to instead do the legwork to sustain these vital relationships. 

People are, after all, a huge source of joy. 

Maintaining relationships will be harder as regular points of contact, and even coincidental ones, are taken off the table. We’ll actually have to make plans to talk and do more talking and listening than our usual activities may allow for. 

I’m already scheduling calls with friends who I will now not see in person. I’ve built check-ins into my schedule for my dear extrovert friends who are already worried about feeling lonely and getting cabin fever. With a few of them, I’m trying to get virtual game nights together or virtual movie nights. 

Make contingency plans for the activities that can be moved online. My Dungeons & Dragons group has made it optional to Skype in and still play. My Bible study will now take place over Google Hangouts and What’s App. 

It’s not going to be easy, but we may find a deeper sense of joy in others and learn something new. 

Perhaps coronavirus will make us better friends.

Rediscover Faith
While for me this whole ordeal is bringing me closer to my faith and my God, that’s not what I’m talking about. Through all the panic and fear, something else is brewing and that’s distrust. 

People are suspecting their neighbors every time they hear a cough. Some people are buying up unnecessary amounts of goods and stranding others with little or none. 

But what I also see is the goodness in humanity coming out. Italians (my beloved people) are singing from balconies to lift spirits and find connection. 

Churches are banding together to form online meetups, devotionals, Bible studies, and even task forces to deliver food and supplies to their elderly congregants. 

Friends are making fundraisers to give local food pantries the money they need to carry those whose jobs are unsecure through this time. 

People are being kind and helpful. If that doesn’t just restore your faith in humanity and bring you immense joy, I’m not sure anything will. 

I hope this helps us relearn how to trust and care for those around us. 

Coronavirus will not doom the world. It will not be forever. And it will not steal our joy.