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The 'Rona Hits Home: Gabe's Perspective from Spain

My dear friend from college, Gabriel, lives in Madrid, Spain and I immediately thought of his wellbeing once COVID-19 (coronavirus) hit the world. Impacting hundreds of thousands of people, this disease hits home for everyone. Whether it's experiencing less work hours, switching your schooling to strictly online or quarantining yourself at home, this virus affects us all. 

I understand the seriousness of this pandemic and often when we're in our own bubble, we can lose sight of how people all over the world are handling the same issues. That's why I reached out to Gabe to know his thoughts since Spain is in total shutdown. A lot of states, including Georgia, haven't gone into total shutdown mode and I can only imagine how it'll feel to have your daily routine suddenly done. 

To have a forced, new normal is a hard concept to follow and I want to go ahead and thank Gabe for his candor.

Please enjoy Gabriel's journal excerpt below.

Saturday March 14, 2020

Journal Entry:

It really is an interesting time to be alive. The same thing is on everyone’s mind at this moment. 5 out of 10 people outside are wearing masks, and shame on you if you don’t have one; not only am I not wearing one, but I’m not going out of my way to get one.  

Coronavirus2020. It seems like he’s the front runner this election year. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this virus a pandemic. I love that abbreviation; it makes for a good meme, and good memes make for good laughs. And good laughs are non-negotiable at this point. For many people humor is a way of coping with the state of the world. We saw how this virus tore through China, but we didn’t take notes. Kinda reminds me of when I was in school. I hated taking notes, and then it was exam day and the joke was on me.  

Schools are closed for about a month in Madrid (if they don’t extend it). At first they tried to make the teachers come in even after the students were instructed to stay home. Haha. This didn’t go well with some of the teachers. By now all teachers have started working from home. Which isn’t terrible for me, but I miss human interaction. I’ve been keeping myself busy by working with students online, practicing Italian, and doing at-home-workouts. Second best is the uninterrupted hours of Netflix. Best is video-chatting with family and friends. 

I look forward to going to the supermarket every few days. It’s the closest I am to people, which at the same time, is dangerous. Soon restaurants, bars, and shops closed down. The city has shut down most public places where people tend to gather. It’s eerie how empty the city is. Here I am sitting in my bed. Distancing myself from everyone. It’s not like we have a choice. We’re only allowed outside to go to the supermarket, pharmacy, or hospital.

I’m surprised at how well I’ve been handling being alone in this shoebox of an apartment I live in. It’s now day 10 I believe? Not sure? What I do know and what I believe is that there’s something to be learnt from all this. We are being forced to slow down and reflect. Shall we never take for granted the freedom we have, the people in our lives, and the basic things that bring us joy. 

I was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach, a meditation instructor. She spoke about how fear can sometimes be a good thing. It makes us feel something. I’ll stop here with one of my favorite quotes from the episode: “May this suffering awaken compassion”.