This is again not the post I wanted to publish next. It seems I make a habit out of this. Not sure if I can produce anything of value anymore. At least not now. Not in the current situation. Not in my current state of mind. This post will be a burst out of my swirling thoughts. I think I need this to lessen the pressure inside. To prevent an explosion. So don’t expect anything more structured or sophisticated than a flow of consciousness on this piece of digital paper. A snapshot of my mind. Behold…
I am not the doomsday sayer type. Nor am I one who is all ears for any new conspiracy theory. I like to think of myself as a realist. Ok, I am sometimes too optimistic about some topics but we are speaking now in general. When I heard about the outburst of this new epidemic in China I barely raised an eyebrow. Not that I did not feel empathy for those people. I did. I do. Just the whole thing seemed so distant and so unrelated. Another one of their problems which they will probably solve. Then it started to spread steadily.
At that point, I still did not think much about it. But it was always in the back of my mind. Leaving me feeling unease. Then it hit Europe. I did not start running around and shouting that the sky will fall. But the fear did start growing inside. When I expressed my concerns to my friends they still seemed uninterested. Without any fear. Without any concern. Some made a joke out of it. Despite all that, I was not able to let it go. In my gut I felt that this sh*t is serious, why isn’t anyone taking it seriously? I still don’t get it.
I started checking the infection maps and numbers multiple times a day. As there appeared more and more red dots and they got closer and closer my mind started to converge towards the emergency state. I realized that the question is not that if it will hit us but when. I realized that the question is not that if we will be affected but how much. I did not expect fast and effective intervention from the government. If better-organized countries with more resources and more developed systems were not able to prevent and/or handle the situation properly then how can I expect that ours will?
This was about when I started to feel flu-like symptoms. Spoiler alert, I am not infected by the coronavirus. At least as far as I know. Still, I have to tell this did not help. As it came it went away on a weekend. Leaving behind an occasional cough and a sneezy nose. Life went on but suspicion remained. I told my wife we should go shopping. That was the point when she checked my temperature because it is pretty rare when I initiate such a thing. Yes, a stocking up tour was long due because of pure leisure and financial concerns. This time I initiated it because of preparation.
This was the time when my wife started to be concerned. After all, there is a dynamic and there are roles in every relationship and in ours, she is the one who is freaking out for things, most of the time I am just meh. The fact that now I was the freaked out one raised her concerns pretty much. So we went shopping. And somehow it felt stupid. We did not buy much stuff but stocked up two weeks’ worth of groceries and other necessary stuff. And the sky still wasn’t falling.
The situation got more and more serious day by day. The public still was meh. The week passed. We went on another shopping tour, bought back what we consumed and another two weeks’ worth of stuff. Meanwhile, the disease arrived into the country. Interestingly people still were not really much concerned.
I went to the office on Monday. There were still some jokes but the kind which you tell to calm down the situation. It felt that folks started taking it seriously. Company communication followed and as I was still experiencing flu-like symptoms which got a little bit worse again I remained home on Tuesday and started the recommended 14 days just in case. Days went by and the European countries started making tough decisions. Every day another one of them closed partially or totally, borders, cities, airlines, schools, etc. Shit just got really real.
Then Sunday evening came and I did something I did not do since, maybe the NATO bombings. I watched the live broadcast of the Serbian national television. The president held a speech and declared a state of emergency. His face was a mixture of feelings. Exhaustion, fear, anger, and disbelief. I have to tell that I am not really fond of the guy but now he seemed serious. He seemed like he means what he said and he cares about it. And this scared me even more.
You cannot hear me appraise our government and politics much in general but this time they acted faster and more efficiently than I expected. Actually, today they brought, even more, stricter sanctions as people did not take it seriously enough. So here we are today, 16th of March 2020. Borders closed. Schools canceled. All kinds of public activities prohibited. Military and police patrolling and guarding hospitals and other important buildings. A curfew in place for anyone older than 65 risking a fine of €1275 if they leave their homes. Same for the ones who break the rules of mandatory quarantine. And I honestly think this is the right way. An uncomfortable but right way. I hope it won’t be too little too late.
Gratitude and doubt arises
I cannot help but I feel grateful. We are finally debt-free. No more monthly payments. We have a roof above our heads. No rent payable. We have a pantry packed with items that can last at least a month, maybe more. No fear of starving. We have a small emergency fund that can buy us four months of livelihood. No shortage of the essentials. I have a job that is stable, the management is understanding, pays salaries on time (trust me, this is not default in our country) and can be done remotely if needed. Until we have electricity and internet connection life could go on without any serious restrictions. Why do I feel guilty about that?
I think about the folks who aren’t as lucky as us. The ones who cannot afford to have a stay at home parent. The ones who don’t have a garden and are enclosed between the four walls with demanding children. The ones whose jobs are evaporating from one moment to another. The ones who are in debt to their eyeballs. The ones who live from paycheck to paycheck. The ones who have no one to rely on. The ones who have to go to work every day despite the situation. The ones who have to risk their lives to help others survive. The ones who are laying on a bed connected to a respiratory machine waiting to get better. I feel their pain. I hear their struggles. And I have to push these thoughts away as I cannot cope with their weight.
This is one of those times when we have to see how fragile is our everyday lifestyle. How much we take luxuries granted. Self-sustaining households were providing the everyday basics for themselves a century ago. Nowadays we are chasing money and take the abundance of supply natural. Consumerism for the win. Are we all pathetic fools? Are we doomed to fail? Will the society inevitably falling apart? Ok, I stop. As I said I am not a doomsday sayer and I don’t want to become one. Sometimes these questions arise and only time will tell the answers.
Here I sit at my kitchen table in the middle of the night. Disturbed by these thoughts. Thinking about possibilities. Evaluating options and risks. I wrote about some serious shit we went through in our lives. But this situation is a metaphoric “Terra Incognita”. Unknown land. No one knows how will this fold out. No one knows where does this situation going. No one knows when will it end, how will it form our future and what will it leave behind. What will be the costs? In lives. In money. In economic growth. What will evolve? What will be erased? Will there be dragons? If only I knew the answers…