PROBLEMS & PERCEPTIONS
COVID-19 – Quarantine Day 332
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
11 February 2021
I remember obsessively refreshing my Johns Hopkin’s COVID-19 dashboard day after day in early March. As the numbers creeped up past 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, I began to worry. Since I read about the outbreak in China in December, I’d started reading about pandemics and the potential damage they could do to humanity. I became fearful. Fearful for the unknowns. Fearful for the sense it was closing in on us. And fearful for what problems it would bring with it.
Fear can be a trigger for me. I’ve been categorized as unflappable by those who know me best, but I’m human. There are times when I become completely flappable and problems seem too big. We’ve all had problems in our lives. That’s part of living, no? Especially if you’ve been alive in the past 332 days, you’ve most likely faced a multitude of problems you never imagined preparing for.
As the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso – likely the most unflappable person around – has been known to say, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
I wish I could’ve brought myself to that worry-free place then. But I will say that on my 332nd day of quarantine, I can see his point. During the weeks leading up to our quarantine, I was worried about who was going to be infected. I was worried about how many people would die. I was worried if I’d be able to buy food for my family. I was worried about adjusting to distance-learning with my daughter. But worries or not, the world still turned. The global infection rates climbed passed 100,000,000. The global death rates are now over 2,000,000. Did my worrying change that? Or did it only create problems for me?
I may never be as unflappable as the Dalai Lama, but I can continue to learn. I’ll always be open to expanding my perceptions. And I’ll never shy away from learning a valuable lesson through my own mistakes. If I worry too much about the unfixable, I’ll accomplish nothing. If the problem is fixable, I should fix it. I hope to learn to handle my problems with those two criteria in mind.
And while I never imagined I’d be in quarantine for 332 days, I also never imagined I’d find peace in my problematic perceptions.
Maybe experience is the best teacher, after all.