Quarantine diary – Week 2 or 3

It is saturday and we have just gone through the 3rd week on quarantine. Coronavirus has reached the impressive number of over 1 million cases and has killed more than 60 thousand people around the world (this number can be much higher since only the severe cases are being counted). In comparison with influenza that has reached something around 3-5 million severe cases and about 290-650 thousand deaths over the course of 2019, COVID-19 seems to be a bit more savage in its spreadness.

We are completing 22 days at home. Going out only to go to the supermarket and emergency groceries, nothing else. Im that kind of person that likes social interaction and bring people over for lunch or dinner. Barbecue, some new dish I’m trying or simply engage in small talk is the perfect excuse to have people over. The picture below shows the food I prepared for my friends on March 8th. Last sunday before the confinement imposed by local government. Meet balls, and fish. Prepared with potato, onions, tomato and white sauce. These type of gathering are gone. Deaths in the country and getting higher and although the center of the decease in Brazil is at the metropolitan areas, it is getting closer and closer to the countryside. It is becoming more and more important to follow the recommendations of the health folks to stay home and avoid as much as possible to get in contacts with others outside your immediate family. The naive thought of not being part of the risk group and therefore there is nothing to worry about is simply idiotic. We have seeing young people getting in pretty bad shape because of respiratory problems. If you add that to the lack of equipment and poor health conditions across the country, chances are that it won´t matter if you are the risk group or not.

Now. How was my third week? Pretty busy I might say. Phone, Phone, Phone… It is curious that as I mentioned to you in previous post that it feels like I’m working more, reality is that I’m always stuck at the phone. We as a family are getting used to the home office, homeschooling, homestaying.. hom everything routine. Even church activities were prohibited in the region. The religious ceremony are now restricted to the interior of the houses and one has to find his own spirituality within. Picture below shows my kid and I getting ready to partake what we consider as sacred. The hat was too much… he was impersonating Michael Jackson right before.

In a way, it feels like those decease and apocalyptic movies where entire cities get infected and millions of people are turned into zombies. I’m not seeing zombies around yet, but the city which by the way is the third biggest city in the planet – Sao Paulo – is empty. I took almost an hour less to drive from my house to the office as there is no traffic, there is much less trucks and certainly much less people in the streets. Food places and restaurants are closed. Those that remained opened are very serious about not getting people in or taking a seat inside. It i a sad sight. When I return home, Im obligated to take off all my clothes and run to take a shower. No hugs, or kisses in anybody. Shoes are put outside the house. There is a overall fear that is so dense that one can almost touch it. The press is not of much help as they are dedicating many hours to dissect the ins and outs of the problem and counting the bodies by the minute. For the sake of sanity it may be wise to turn the TV off during the week and watch it only once on sunday to catch up on the latest development.

I think that while being aware of what is happening around you is super important, getting too much of it may put you into a state of constant fear. You somehow start giving more attention to this dreadful events and are put in a place that is all about anxiety and horrible. There is a lot of joy outside of the internet. There is a lot of good people and good deeds. Im of the opinion that most of the fear that we feel are not real. It is more like a sense of insecurity that anything else. Most of people have not suffered or fell victim of any of the stuff that pass on TV, yet most of us feel like we need immediate protection. This is crazy! There is life out there you know!? Despite the fact that this virus is a terrible thing we can rejoice the fact that we have the internet to connect with work, friends and family. I witnessed a beautiful moment between my wife and here friends talking using a video conference software. Each one of them separated in distance but connected in life. I received a call from a friend from Rio de Janeiro just because he felt like it, it was a good and warm feeling. Call your loved ones, your friends, express your feelings and try to make things together even from distance.

Another aspect of this period is that we can turn it into a very positive thing. I have already expressed this message in previous post when I was talking about the blessing that is to be around your little ones. But I want to call your attention to a behavioral aspect. According to Nina Silva there are 3 areas where you and I can be placed during this pandemic. She calls it ZONES, categorizing them as the Zone of Fear, Learning and Growth. Each one of this places is determined by how you face a given challenge or your ability to endure in tough situations. 

Zone of Fear

This is the place reserved for people that gets emotional in face of a problem. Part of it because he/she receives an  enormous amount of information  – most of them bad. As the feeling of uncertainty goes bigger, this person reacts by rushing into the supermarket and buying everything that he can put his hands on, ignoring the basics rules of rational consumption. This compulsive behavior and anxiety can be expressed in work, food and social networking. Generally this is the same person that will complain about the quarantine and publish fake news. He gets infuriated because this horrible event is ruining whatever he had ongoing or planned. He refuses to learn or to understand the reasons behind the actions of public health agents and wants a quick solution to get his life back on track.

Zone of Learning

This is the place reserved for the people that understands that nobody can control everything everytime. By doing so, this person will realize that read the news and COVID-19 in a compulsive manner won’t help anymore than reading occasionally. This state of self awareness is important to realize when you need a break from a toxic environment. The Zone of Learning is about how one needs to ponder his actions and its effects. There is some reflection about his social behavior and how his words can affect others. He recognizes that his situation may be different from his neighbour and try to be gentle and human about it. This one uses his time to learn and teach new things.

Zone of Growth

This is probably the best place to be and also the hardest one. Here the person recognizes his place in the society and is a driver of change. By connecting people, buying from small businesses as a way to help them to survive. If in a position of power you don’t simply let your contributor unemployed but look for solutions where he can still be able to provide to his family. You promote a message of hope and understanding. You try to connect the dots of different opinions and build bridges between them. Whenever purchase is needed, you do it thinking of others, not only on yourself. This guy can easily master his time by making time between work, family, friends and exercises. This person knows how to adapt and make an omelette out of a broken egg. By recognizing that the situation needs adaptation this person finds new ways to overcome adversity. This one is the music professor that migrates to the digital world to give his classes via video and finds that his public that were then limited to a certain number of people are now unlimited. Is that lady that can’t go out sell her stuff but will continue to effectively communicate to her customer via whatsapp, instagram and Facebook and will discover in the process that she can sell to much more people. It is time to review the objectives that were set previously and adapt. By digitizing the work and the communication these people can continue to be productive even being in quarantine. It is a way of growing as a person and turn a bad situation into something good. The people that are in the Zone of Growth will be much better after the crisis than when it begins. They will discover that they are capable of may incredible things and adapting to a new world will certainly be positive.

Where Am I?

I’m not really sure. whereas I try to be between learning and growth I can’t deny that fear hasn’t visit me. As I think nobody is completely free from it and is completely normal to be afraid I see  that dwelling in this zone may be a problem. I have tried hard to be strong and to build bridges during this time when everyone is so anxious and angry. Specially being a father and a husband I try even harder to lead my family towards preparation, self consciousness and self awareness. By recognizing where we are it is easy to plan where we want to be.

And speaking about being better, I received a gift from my colleagues of the office on my birthday last week.  It is a guessing game called Black Stories where you are given some clues about a situation (occasionally involving death) and you need to discover what happened by asking “Yes” and “No”questions. Wonderful exercise about not assuming or taking things for granted. It is amazing what one can discover by asking proper questions rather than thinking you already know the answer.

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