The global COVID-19 quarantine continues while the sun is getting brighter each day. The Netherlands are blessed with the most beautiful spring in history while life outside must remain limited, preferably even avoided. A difficult contradiction, that seems to effect a lot of people, making them less careful about the corona virus that is spreading around the world. I notice how more and more people seem to start caring less about the government’s measurements and this effects me.
The dutch sun instinct
Dutch people are used to live with so much rain that every sunny day needs to be celebrated. When the temperature exceed the 15°C and there is a tiny bit of sun, everyone moves outside, enjoying these rare pleasant days in our country and finally show off their pale white bodies in the summer clothing that mostly remains inside their wardrobes. When the spring days are covered in sun, Dutch people just can’t stay inside or alone. Like bunnies getting out of their holes to start their mating season, the Dutch get out of their houses and look for the company of other people.
I really hoped that the Corona quarantine would safe me from being forced to look at body parts I rather not see. To have one spring without the confrontation with my loneliness by groups of friends enjoying the sun together. I secretly hoped that the COVID-19 virus would make all the other people more like me, more lonely, more socially distant.
Invading my peace
Unfortunately, the virus seems to be weaker than the strength of the spring sunlight that brightens our days. People can not resist the nice weather, they can not resist their primal instinct that tells them to enter the sunlight with the comfort of their friends. The fear of the rainy days is bigger than their fear of the Corona virus and this bothers me.
I can not go to the supermarket without being overwhelmed by the groups of friends shopping for their barbecue. My usually silent garden has transformed into a party, with loud music, chatter and new people arriving every 15 minutes. The parks are taking over by friends that don’t own a garden and even the pavement is occupied by crates of beer and shirtless groups of people.
The socially distant spring I was hoping for, has turned into a nightmare. The places people usually visit when the temperature rises are closed because of the quarantine but this does not prevent people from going outside. Instead of staying inside, they start to invade my private bubble, the places I was safe start to turn into places of confrontation and I no longer know where I can go to escape from the world.
Increasing my anxiety
Besides my garden, street and supermarket turning into places of overstimulation, there is also my growing fear of getting infected with the Corona virus. I find myself trapped inside the walls of my tiny basement, afraid that the virus has taken over my garden. A simple trip to the supermarket has become an extremely stressful experience. There are just too much people everywhere.
The best spring weather in history, combined with the COVID-19 quarantine and my own breakdown are making me more lonely and anxious than I have ever been. I don’t open my windows, I don’t go outside and I don’t talk to anyone. I’m too afraid, trapped inside by my anxiety, completely disconnected from the world.
Social distancing is encouraged by our government, however I believe only the people that where already disconnected follow this advice, increasing the gap between the lonely people and the ones with a rich social life. The quarantine scares the people that where already lonely even more to look for any kind of contact, while the rest of the world increases their fear by ignoring the social distance measurements, creating an even greater fear to go outside.
Facing the fear
Before I started writing today, I forced myself to go outside on my bike, 10 minutes of fresh air and some exercise. Minutes I really need in the situation I’m in but have become harder and harder because of the Corona virus. I forced myself and I went out, however, the little bicycle ride I used to love turned out to be far from enjoyable today. Everywhere I saw people, everywhere I saw Corona. Everything scared me but also made me angry at all these people that just couldn’t listen to the government. Frustrated about how careless our world is, how selfish people are.
But then I saw one old man, on a bench in the park. I think he was about 75 to 85 years old and next to the bench was the stroller he used to get there. The man was reading a book, next to the water, his hands covered in plastic gloves and his face behind a surgical mask. But he was there. He was alone in the park, enjoying the great weather, despite his fear of getting sick. This man made me realize that I should face my fears as well, and try to enjoy my life the best I can in this time.
After I disinfected my hands, shoes, clothes and bicycle, I decided that, I as well, should try to make the best of my days. I grabbed my notebook and sat down in the most sunny spot in my garden. My headphones blocked the sound of my stupid neighbors party and I wrote this blog while facing my fear for the virus. I did it, and it felt good. Tomorrow I should try again.
Care about other people
Although I was able to face my fear today, to go outside despite the extreme anxiety I was experiencing, I am sure I’m not the only person with this anxiety. People that are lonely get even more lonely and anxious due to the strange situation the world is in and help is less and less available. For the people that where already struggling before the global quarantine, life has become only harder, loosing the one thing that was holding them together or making them more and more anxious for the world. It is important to realize what a hard time this is for all of us, for the entire world and help each other where ever possible.
Following the rules that have been made by your government can help to ease the struggles for other people, they are there for a reason. Only together we can fight the COVID-19 virus, only together we can get our world back and continue our lives. Think about your neighbors, think about the people you pass on the street, think about the old man and think about your family. Times are hard, but together we will pass them, but only when we stay apart and listen to our governments. We don’t have to be within 1 meter of each other to feel not alone, love can travel much further distances and we have to trust it will.