In Linda Rand’s next Pandemic Diaries column “Elu on Lill (Life Is a Flower),” she shares her thoughts about the holidays, masks and social distancing, and adapting.
Americans have been traveling for the holidays and COVID is surging towards the fearsome numbers that could lead to overflowing hospitals. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to find my emotional footing and continue in a sustainable way. This includes allowing my mind to slip away from trying to decipher the details of the magnitude of people suffering. I’m unable to analyze the numbers anymore, just hunker down/socially distance, mask when indoors or near another outside, as I have been for most of this year.
One coping mechanism is running a lot before the weather gets rough. Another is taking vitamins for the first time in my life and making smoothies with things like flaxseed oil and maca, trying to regulate my mood. Many of us are flagging, I suspect. I’m looking forward to the daylight hours getting longer. My daughter and I walked near some wetlands for Solstice and when returning today it was palpable that the light lasted longer. The scales still tip more towards “appreciation” than “lament,” mostly due to a heart full of loved ones, and that is what holds me fast.
In early December, a new strain of COVID, perhaps 70% more contagious as stated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was detected in the UK and has already spread to Denmark, Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands. Six hours ago, at the time of this writing, COVID was confirmed in Antarctica, so now it is on every continent. We are being told it will be a grim winter.
The scales still tip more towards “appreciation” than “lament,” mostly due to a heart full of loved ones, and that is what holds me fast.
People close to me are getting their first wave of vaccines as healthcare workers. People close to me are also suffering from losing family members to the virus and there have been a few suicides and much heartbreak. A couple of friends have invented creative and safe ways to hug, but I’ve only engaged in those twice in nine or so months. They feel risqué, even though we’re masked, holding our breaths, our faces far from each other. One version is turning away from a person as they press a hand between your shoulder blades. It has come to this. I am thankful for my daughter, young enough to still curl up in my arms and accept kisses on her still babyish face. Our mammalian nervous systems need touch, but we need to do the right thing and stop the spread.
Leading to the Solstice, I danced outside with one friend in the night air properly distanced, a blazing fire illuminating our masked faces, sweaty, exultant. As we grew wilder, we high fived through a heavy mist of hand sanitizing spray. Even with the precautions, I can feel the tight reins fraying and I’m glad to pull back for winter, have less temptations, and finally read again! For the first time since March, my focus has returned and with it another new venture. I’m exploring the Estonian language.
During the pandemic, I discovered my cousin Maarja in Estonia and we immediately had a natural rapport. Growing up, she was a punk rock violinist and we both loved Siouxsie and the Banshees and were involved in a lot of creative shenanigans. She’s filled my head with visions of storks nesting during their summers of almost 24 hours of sunlight, foxes that steal shoes, and a country that is over 50% forested and encourages camping and a love of the outdoors. There is a saying, “Elu on Lill,” which means, “life is a flower.” Flowers need fertilizer sometimes, so, when life is crappy, well … you get the drift.
We are an adaptable species. We’re innovative. We have many, many flaws and make many, many mistakes. We also have a lot of love and can nurture the sparks of tiniest hopes, fanning them into glorious dreams. With our new President, I’m hoping our country will be more professional and less fascist, that we’ll understand the nature of this pandemic and understand how to live properly with nature and with each other. I’m going to keep learning, even if at a snail’s pace, and I’m going to renew my passport.