This disruption is here to stay

By Lisa Maria Bell

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This is no blip on the radar. COVID-19 and the changes it has wrought are fully intertwined into the fabric of daily life now, six months after my first journal entry about it on Jan. 19 — “A new virus is killing people in China.”

For a fourth consecutive night, I have awakened from dreams containing whisps of how the virus has changed things. Not the biggest, scariest things that terrified me in the earliest weeks and months — people dying alone in nursing homes and hospitals, health care systems stretched to breaking, long lists of horrifying symptoms and repercussions that just keep getting worse.

These dreams just fold in subtle aspects of how greatly daily life has been distorted.

This pandemic has touched our world in ways that will be with us for years to come.

Apologies to my artistic friends who early on dove in to creative projects to keep their sanity — writing, art, photos of a world devoid of people — but at first I thought, “I would never want to read a story that incorporated COVID-19.”

Now, as days and weeks drag into months, which will become years of a changed and changing world, I can’t imagine future books and TV and movie storylines NOT including this disruption. To leave out all the ways in which things are different would leave a gaping hole in the story, would be such fantastic fiction that I wouldn’t be able to suspend disbelief about the truth of anything on the page or screen.

At first, fear overwhelmed my own sense of creativity. Uncertainty immobilized me. I couldn’t even focus on a jigsaw puzzle, a hobby that usually gives me respite from stress.

Now, as I have at other troubled points in my life, I find that putting words down on page or screen, and rearranging them until they feel just right helps me get the troubling thoughts outside of my head, where they crash around and deafen me. For better or worse, these thoughts and these words are part of my story.

This is no blip. It’s here. And we can’t shrug off some aspects of all that has been torn apart.

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