I like to think I’m a pretty positive person – and when RA invaded my life, I found a way to look at the lighter side. I rarely complain about my flares and bad days because, quite frankly, those of us who have some form of inflammatory arthritis already know how bad it can get, and you don’t need to hear it from me. I have a good life, a great life, in fact, even with RA. I have a good home, a job I like, an artistic life I adore; I’m engaged to my best friend, I graduated from The Writer’s Studio, going back to school at almost fifty and achieved my dream of becoming a university alumni. I’ve played some great roles on the stage, I’ve studied and performed all kinds of dance, I’ve lived a rich life filled with ups and downs. Would it be better without RA? Sure. But life is not without its challenges and we all have trials to bear.
Enter Covid-19. This invisible beast drove us all into isolation, took the life we knew and turned it upside down. It cut us off from our family, friends, work and social activities. I made my peace with the old lady in my bones (RA). I learned how to live with her, and created a good life in spite of her, and I will probably do the same with Covid-19 – but first I have to say: “this sucks.”
I know that history and other countries have seen worse, and if we must self-isolate for our protection, I’m grateful for the world I live in today with all its resources to pull us through what I hope is only a temporary glitch in our grand timeline – but right now, I need to say “this sucks.” It sucks that I can’t hang out with friends I’ve known since high school; it sucks that I can’t visit my family; it sucks that I can’t travel, go out to a restaurant for a nice dinner, attend a gala for an arthritis fundraiser, and go swimming in our pool. It sucks I can’t go to the office, see my co-workers, hear their jokes, news and stories about their weekend.
Okay, now that I’ve unleashed my frustrations by yelling from my balcony, let’s get back to the positivity I’m so bent on spreading. I’ve found a quieter life in this quarantine world. The city is calm and serene. I can hear birds instead of horns. Wildlife is flourishing, returning to the areas they abandoned years ago; plants are greener, blooms are fuller. I’m cooking more, making good food and enjoying the process of more challenging recipes; I’m reading lots of wonderful books, writing more stories, and finding new ways to develop my artistic life. I go out for walks; I have a job I can do from home; I have a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator, and the ability to find ways to keep myself active.
If I compare today’s world, to say, the world of the 1500’s, I can honestly say it’s not that bad.
This strange interlude in our lives may last longer than we want, but it won’t last forever. This is simply a flash in the pan (I’ve always loved this phrase and the image it evokes). We will get through it, and in the process, we may discover a new way to live. Change is scary, and it’s okay to feel that fear. Life was never meant to be stagnant. It was made to bend and flow – and we were made to be flexible enough to flow with it.
Stay well everyone.
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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.