Springtime came in quietly this year, lush with vibrant life and cherry blossoms. It was an unusual spring. The commerce that ran our daily lives was suspended in the web of an inhospitable virus. For a few weeks, the human footprint was reduced, and the natural world flourished. Mother Nature was given her chance to shine, to heal, to make a grand resurgence in a domain ruled by concrete and plastic. It was calm. A new peace permeated our lives, and whether we embraced it or not, it was there. When the world began to open again, the weather turned, and with it came the unsettled rhythm of navigating our place in it. In the first week of July, the storm finally receded, and a new summer began.
The summer brought back the heartening familiarity of blue skies and long crimson sunsets. The quiet world burst into life, like a sunflower unfolding in the rays of the sun. It’s not like previous summers – travel is limited to within our own regions, businesses were lost, some will never re-open, others opened with new rules and restrictions; some people have gravitated back to their workspace, some are still working from home; public transit is at half capacity. Time spent indoors ended abruptly and outdoor life started flourishing on the west coast. The temperate climate has become our safety net from the Covid-19 virus, where social distancing is easy to maintain in wide open spaces and infectious droplets get lost in the stratosphere.
I emerged from my cocoon, leaving behind the days of online cocktail hours, and naming the spiders on our deck (we unfortunately lost “Skippy”, but “Joan” is still with us). We go for daily walks, sit on the patio with our coffee, watch the sun set with a glass of wine in the evenings; we go out for dinner once a week to support local business and enjoy good food on an open patio; we count the stars in the night sky, and breathe in the clean salty air of the ocean before it sweeps its way up the sheer verdant mountains. We appreciate the beauty and prospects found in our own backyard.
A pandemic life is not unlike a life with chronic illness – there are still adjustments to be made and precautions to take. Along with my wallet, phone and keys, my mask has become just another rudimentary item in my purse. I found a simpler, more contented life in the weeks of isolation. I created a serene internal garden that helped me plant the seeds for a new vitality. I became fearless once again, not of the virus, but in my determination to live an extraordinary life in this virulent summer, because how can life during a pandemic be ordinary? It is anything but ordinary.
I may have to live with Covid-19 for a long time, but just like RA, it won’t stop my life – it just makes me appreciate it a little more.
One of the extraordinary projects I have the pleasure of working on this summer is performing the old radio shows of the 1930’s. This is the first one.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.