I find myself alternating between relief, fear and guilt. I am so glad that life is easing. It is lovely to be able to plan for things, to go places, to see people. But all of this also leads to fear.
As I meet more people, I am afraid I may come in contact with the virus. Just yesterday I spoke with my daughter about spending time together and realised that there is a risk because they live and London and are commuters. Should we see them? Am I doing the right thing? Fear of the unknown, unseeable becomes a factor in my decisions in a new way.
And then there is guilt. For four months I have barely used my car, now I want to use it all the time to go everywhere. I don’t want to be limited to 5 miles. And every time I think about a journey, I feel guilty because I am again adding to pollution levels. Relief, fear, and guilt.
Guilt has long been a part of my life. I know the “right” things to do environmentally and socially but I don’t always do the right thing. The right things impact my personal economics in uncomfortable ways so I sometimes I make good choices and sometime I make bad choices. When I make bad choices, I carry guilt.
Fear is also a strong current in my life. I have been told I appear fairly fearless. I have indeed done some amazing things—like change cultures and move to new places. However, I don’t think of myself as fearless, I remember the times fear stopped me. I carry that fear a bit like guilt, secretly and shamefully.
Now, I am fairly fearless at home, but beyond that I am conscious of a current of fear that each interaction I make could change my life or the life of another. The virus is invisible. I can’t see it to confront it. All I can do is keep distant, yet keeping distant hurts. I am afraid of how normal interactions, sharing laughter and singing could enable transmission. I am fearful.
Finally, there is relief. I am excited to plan for the future, to look forward to events and gatherings and being with people. My relief is coloured by fear and guilt. Do I want to go back to everything being the same as before lockdown? I sigh with relief because I can relax just a bit, think about the regular and routine—but then I remember I can’t really. Guilt and fear remain my companions for now. So somedays there is the relaxation that comes we relief, but then the vigilance of fear and guilt return.
Life might be easier now, but the pandemic isn’t over. For now relief will remain coloured with guilt and fear. Choices have to be made clearly weighing risk. And it seems grace needs to undergird everything—for sometimes I will get it right and sometimes I will get it wrong. That’s the way of life in pandemic.
Fear, guilt, relief, and grace—my companions for some time to come.
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