I have been in bed for a good forty minutes with my eyes shut but never even close to sleep.
Today we withdrew our kids from school. We are going into lock-down. I spent the evening preparing worksheets for the kids to do tomorrow. Cycling around in my head are the following:
- The maths questions I prepared for the kids. Too hard? Too easy? Will I even be able to get them to do anything?
- A graph that P showed me of the difference between two provinces in Italy who locked down less than two weeks apart and what the difference has done to their death rates.
- Conversations with a friend who has a different approach to COVID19 than me and how it freaks me out that once again I can’t influence anything, even although I feel it is absolutely critical that I do.
- The economics of this event – will people have enough money? Will businesses survive? Will we have enough food to get through it? Will the supply chain fail? In my shut-eye state, a car burning rubber sounds like pending doom.
- A walk I went on this morning with a friend – the beauty of the sky and sun and verdant green. The way dams are full now. The sleepy-eyed roos who must have full tummies at last. The magpie that came to talk to us as we sat enjoying the view. And how we talked about the extraordinary change from January and yet, in the air is something far more sinister than smoke.
- How we are preparing our wills, at last. How I chased up an email that hadn’t been responded to. How I feel like not dealing with it right now could be a terrible oversight. How I have never felt like that before. Do you know, we were quoted between $750 and $4000 for legal services. I was astounded at the variance. I raised the point with the most expensive firm – asking the guy if he was aware of the range. He said he was and tried to imply their service was more complete. How can you know? Only your own death will tell.
I can’t quite believe how awful this year is. Awful for humans. Awful for Australians (human and otherwise). But, oddly, perhaps good for the planet. Satellite images show the almost total disappearance of pollution over China. Newspaper headlines report that COVID19 may lead to more people permanently working from home. People eating more home cooked meals – less disposable cutlery and crockery. Such reduced numbers of flights – less pollution. Less cars on the road.
The year my son turned four, my parents gave him a book by Percy Trezise called “The Peopling of Australia”. It is a beautifully illustrated story of the period during which the Aboriginal people were the prime custodians of the Australian landscape. It talks about a terrible drought brought on by the ending of the Ice Age around 20,000 years ago. Trezise writes:
Many people suffered and died. They made laws to protect the remaining animals and other foods. The main law said: “No one must ever kill an animal made poor by drought. In drought everything must become poor, including man, so that all may survive the hard times.”
If this is an accurate account, we see a people who accept that they are part of an ecosystem. They are not the rulers. They are participants. They faced terror and mortality unflinchingly as part of life’s cycle.
I think we wealthy people have forgotten how to exist like that. We are used to being in control. But this year, that control has slipped. It feels sickening. Terrible. Awful.
We are only human. Only ever have been human. A virus can make us feel small.