“What A Time To Be Alive” has been a caption to so many social media posts portraying blissful happiness and celebration of monumental events. This week I used the phrase at the end of a sigh of despondency at the current state of our country. I’m not that old but I don’t remember things always being this bad. So because I needed to read something positive and be reminded of the good, I figured that many of you might need the same thing.
I know that the Coronavirus has come with a lot of painful experiences and has left many people affected negatively in various aspects of their lives. The aftermath of the virus will still be felt for a long time to come. There is no need for me to cover the effects currently being lived and those predicted beyond 2020, we know them all too well. This week I would like to share with you, through the experiences of others, the upside of COVID-19.
Yes, I mean there is a silver lining to this season.
I spoke to a few people about what they would consider a COVID-19 blessing, one or more things that happened to them during this time as a direct result of the pandemic, its consequences and restrictions. I figured this is how negative headlines are birthed, through the unfortunate experiences of ordinary people, so I went looking for positivity.
We live in a fast-paced world that demands all of our time, all of the time. We try to successfully and simultaneously fulfil as many roles as we can. Ardelia De Roos lives in Sea Point and is a relationship analyst in the banking sector. She noticed that as much as before Corona it felt like there was never enough time to do everything required of her as an individual, this season has shown otherwise. Ardelia realised that there are things she can move to the bottom of the list or that can be fulfilled in a way that does not take away from the priorities she previously neglected. Not having to commute to work and being unable to visit family and friends brought with it the upside of taking control of her time.
The relationships that need the most watering from us are the ones that we inadvertently neglect as soon as a ‘need’ arises. We marry our spouses because they are the ones we want to spend most of our time with, for the rest of our lives. They are the family we choose. Yet they are so easily moved to the back of the line for work, family commitments outside of the two of you (and your children), social engagements that seem essential, or whatever else we deem important. This season of being confined only to our homes in many instances has come with the upside of strengthened family bonds.
Byron Treasurer, a husband and father of three beautiful kids, a successful businessman in logistics, and most recently, a COVID-19 survivor, spoke openly when I asked him to share with the VK readers about his COVID blessings.
“I was one of those people who suffered from severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)” he said with a guilty laugh. “I could never turn down an invite to any occasion, not even a night out with the boys. This caused unwarranted friction in my home as my family would ask me to stay and I’d choose to satisfy those outside instead of them.”
In post-COVID recovery, Byron says he has gained more perspective and realised the importance of investing in and valuing his family above all else. He shared how even as a businessman witnessing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on businesses around him, it has sparked more aggressiveness in his road to continued success than ever before. “I have been complacent for a long time, never exploring other ventures, but now I am adamant to do more and create a more stable income for my family.”
Other families relied on things as simple as spending time together in the kitchen and cooking competitive dinners. Some spoke of having weekly in house family socials that drew even the teenagers away from their screens and out of their bedrooms.
Leroy, a husband and father, said COVID brought financial savings. Not having to spend excessive amounts of money on petrol to go into work each day led to access money in his account. He was able to buy things he wouldn’t have had the money to get before.
“I know funeral restrictions complicated the way many lay their loved ones to rest but I can genuinely say that they also allowed families to save thousands of rands. Where I am from, you need to provide refreshments for so many people in the week building up to the funeral and then cater for an easy 500+ on the day of the funeral.” He said he hoped people would hold onto prioritising those closest to the deceased even once restrictions are lifted.
A fresh start
A Joburger, originally from Ravensmead, Louis Fransman, who graduated at 45 (with his first undergraduate degree) saw this time as a fresh start. The moment his final results were released, he applied for a new position. He was then invited to an interview, which took place via zoom, and he bagged the job. He gave notice to his landlord, moved house and towns. COVID, for him, came with the upside of the courage to start anew.
The certainty of forever together
Joel and Janique Van der Merwe got married on Thursday 26 March 2020, just hours before the national lockdown kicked in at 23:59. They dated for only 6 months. Some called it crazy, they called it being sure. With all the uncertainty ahead of the lockdown the one thing they were certain of was that they wanted to spend the rest of their days together.
“I had always wished to be able to stay at home with my husband and still get money every month.” For J and J, COVID came with the upside of spending uninterrupted months together as newlyweds which would just not have been possible to this extent in any other season.
The frontliners’ upside
When Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist Physician and Nephrologist, shared her COVID blessings with me, the smallness of the first thing she said reminded me that we can, if we look hard enough, find good in even the most minuscule situations. She was happy to not have to worry about makeup and what she wore to work because no one could see her through the personal protective equipment. Dr Motse saw the eradication of ridicule on the frontline that came with COVID-19 as another upside; there were no experts in the pandemic, no one had prior knowledge or experience, “the professors and interns were figuring things out together.”
Meo, a physiotherapist, who worked with numerous patients fighting for every living breathe they took, said she thanked God daily for the ability to just breathe. “After seeing the desperation and anxiety in the patients that could not breathe with ease, the air in my lungs is something I could never take for granted post COVID.”
I hope that through the simple experiences of these individuals, you are reminded of the good that has come from this season. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge and even celebrate it. Make the best of where you are right now so that once this is over, all of you, is still strong.
*These are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.