I started this post listing all the facts and drastic measurements that were implemented in Norway in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. I wanted to give you a proper update on what is going on here, up north. Norway is just as much in crisis mode as all the other European countries, with little hope that things will get better or easier any time soon. But to be honest, that is not at all what I want to write about. Like most of you I too find myself in a world that is changing faster than I can keep track of. The following post might be a little chaotic, it might be too emotional for your taste, and there might be too many spelling errors in it. For now, this is just the way it is. What I want to say to you (and maybe even more to myself) is this:
It is ok to feel vulnerable right now.
It is ok to feel anxious, insecure, fearful or helpless.
We all do. At least to a certain extend we share this experience and these sensations. We think of our loved ones, spread across countries, scattered in all the different places around the world. In times like these it is only natural to worry.
I think of two close friends with a young daughter in Germany. She just recovered from an almost-pneunomia and is now starting to cough again. I feel their worry and anxiety.
I think of my two oldest friends, being stranded in India, not knowing when they are allowed to fly back home. When shit goes down in India, I really fear to be here, my friend told me. I feel her and I know she has reasons to be worried.
I think of a colleague of mine who recently moved to Berlin. He doesn’t have a lot of social contacts yet, and the necessary physical distancing is making him feel even more alone.
Many dear friends are self-employed and have no idea how to get through the coming months, with no income and little or no savings. I know their worry, I worry too.
Another friend told me about her father, who just received a cancer diagnosis. His urgent operation is now being postponed.
I think of my host in Norway, who wanted to travel to the Faröer Islands to visit her 90-year-old father. And how she had to explain to him why she couldn’t come and that she didn’t know when they would see each other again. I feel her sadness.
I think of my family back in Germany. Although I don’t worry about their health too much I can’t help but wonder when I get to see them again. And although I am safe where I am right now, I would prefer to be with them.
Thinking of those who are most at risk
I try to extend my thoughts to all the people that I don’t know, that are even more at risk. This virus might spread among us, regardless of passport, religion, ethnicity or gender. But let’s not forget that it hits those most vulnerable in the most fatal manner.
I think of the thousands of refugees, stranded in camps at the outer boarders of Europe, trying to stay alive under inhumane conditions, even before this virus turned the world upside down. I don’t dare to say I know their anxiety, their trauma and what they are going through. But I know we shall not forget them, even though we might be occupied with our own worries.
I think of all the health professionals and their tireless effort to keep going. About the people working in supermarkets, in pharmacies, operating trains and busses. I think of all the old and sick people, people in critical conditions, those who already suffer from depression and severe anxiety, and about their friends and families.
We know how to do this
And although I can feel waves of anxiety and helplessness wash over me, I know something else too: We human beings will manage almost anything, as long as our heads stay somewhat clear and our hearts open. Generations before us have gone through war, depression, epidemics, through famines and displacement. We know how to do this. It is deeply rooted in our systems to manage all sorts of crisis. As long as we steady our hearts and care for each other.
In order to manage overwhelming feelings, what I find helpful and soothing these days is to make lovingkindness and compassion my inner motor, my crisis managing system. Every now and then, during the day, I try to tune in and listen to my heart, asking: What can I do for you? What do you need right now? Just as much as caring for my own heart, I try to be there for the people around me, the very small community of people on the farm. What do they need? How can I be helpful to them? I try to stay in close contact to my family and friends, I try to let people know that I am there for them, even if it is just on the phone right now. I read about countless acts of love, care and solidarity all over the world, among strangers, families and friends. I guess a crisis really brings it out in you. Fear can motivate greed and egoism just as much as kindness and selflessness. It’s good to have options, isn’t it?
For now, I want you all to know that I am thinking about you and that I am sending love, care and compassion your way.