Compassion in the Time of COVID

No sense in beating around the bush. I can’t exactly ignore the pandemic, especially as a person with an underlying medical condition. 99% of my time is limited to 350sq feet. I’m hungry, bored and lonely. In addition to things that I won’t bother to ignore, the topic of compassion is the result of A LOT of reflection. I’m not generally known for being the most compassionate of individuals.


I also don’t know anything about children but I know two couples who recently had babies. Not that I know anything about babies either, but I am going to start by discussing them. These two babies were born in the time of COVID. These two babies, from the moment of their birth, have had the world around them experiencing nothing besides social distancing, isolation and all the other things that go along with the virus. Maybe it means nothing to them now, because they are only a few weeks old and their priorities are a little different than the rest of us, but it’s still the only world they know.


We don’t know how long the pandemic will go on for, but when it does end, the world will go back to something similar-ish to the world we knew. To what we understood, to what we were comfortable with. When it changes, it will be an entirely new experience for those babies. People walking near each other. Concerts, church, sporting events, all in real life. Workplaces with cubicles. Parties. Disneyland. Races.


Even for the young children right now, this might be exciting. Summer is right around the bend and they don’t have to go to formal school. They get to play in the backyard. Their parents are home with them to play. Again though, this is the world that they are experiencing.


We are being recommended now to have compassion for each other and to live for today. In a few months… or years… or a decade… we are going to have to have compassion for the children experiencing this right now. It’s not just adults who this is affecting and we don’t know for how long. Compassion. That’s right now. That’s next week, next month, next year.


The reason I wanted to write this post was because I’ve been a massive hypocrite about this. I know people who are born with epilepsy, and I’ve been compassionate to them for having only ever known life with the condition. I know people who became epileptic later in life and who knew a full adult life and then had to adjust to a life with a major medical condition. I’ve offered compassion to them too. Somehow though, I haven’t been providing it to anyone right now. All I’ve thought about is how hard this is for me. In every angry, selfish, emotional way. I don’t even offer compassion to myself.


My life has changed. Other people’s lives have changed. Running is different, if I feel brave enough to go out at all. That’s the same for all other runners. Work is different from home, just like work is different for the people who are working from home, nevermind the people who aren’t working or who have to change their procedures when they go to work. I can’t socialize the way I used to. No one is supposed to socialize by visiting or going to pubs.


There are things we can do. There are things we can’t do. I know people who are making face masks for people to stay safe. I know people who are socializing via FaceTime or Zoom or whatever to still visit but safely. People who are following the precautions outlined by health organizations. People who are supporting their neighbours or people who need assistance. And I know people who are dressing like pirates and drinking rum at home alone (oh wait, that’s me).


I don’t know if I wrote this post to speak to myself about a different mindset. I don’t know if it was to let others know that we aren’t alone when we are feeling angry, or alone or selfish. It’s okay to feel those things. But compassion is something that we can learn and we can offer, even if it’s not generally part of our nature. The world is changing. The world, whether it’s the world that someone was born into just a few weeks ago or the world that we’ve lived in for decades, is changing. There’s room for more compassion.

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