I was a bit depressed this afternoon because it’s finally starting to sink in that this new way of life is not just a two-week or a month-long situation but something long-term. Everything we’ve experienced or known so far is now topsy-turvy. I’m a person who likes to plan, knowing full well that plans do change. Now I’m realizing I can’t even attempt to plan because this is such unchartered territory. I mean, we can look at the 1918 influenza or what my parents went through–the bombing of Hiroshima, but this is a very specific time with new global connections, high-technology and economies.
On a very micro, personal level, Tulo is old, estimated age of 14 years, who probably has Cushing’s disease but I don’t want to put him on strong (and expensive) medication. He has to pee all the time, especially at night, so even though I took him on two walks today, I go out at sunset for his third. And lo and behold, the sky is gorgeous, streaks of pink against the blue, and I find myself angry. Like why is the sky so beautiful? Does the Heavens know how we are suffering right now? Nonetheless, I chase the skyline–not only because I want to take pictures to put it on social media (!) but also because I want to capture its fleeting beauty. As my dog and I walk home, I tell myself that I need to savor these small, good moments even though in some ways, it’s weirdly painful. And walking underneath some trees, I smell jasmine (a good sign because I heard you lose your sense of smell when you have COVID-19). It is strong and fragrant. I don’t know if I can be as fragrant during this time of unknowing. But the fact that I saw and smelled must mean something.
People–well, to be specific, members of the CDC (Center for Disease Control)–have said that it’s only a matter of time before the COVID-19 novel coronavirus comes to the U.S. in full force.
I’m the type that doesn’t get overly fearful about such pronouncements, but I also have a neurotic side that Googles “how to prevent coronavirus infection.” Fear itself will not solve the problem; in fact, it may fan the flames of xenophobia, producing physical, emotional and financial harm. (Chinese restaurants throughout the nation are definitely adversely affected right now.) Your everyday mask will not protect you from contracting the virus but may mitigate others from getting your germs if you happen to have it or any kind of viral infection.
Full-time novelists who are mostly writing rather than promoting are in a more protected position. I fall into this category.
I’m mostly living in my head and doing research online or in libraries this year. My final Mas Arai mystery, HIROSHIMA BOY, will be coming out next year in 2021 and I’m saving my pennies to go out to Japan for the book launch that summer. As it stands now, the Tokyo Olympics is still on for this year, but that may change in a few months. (How horrible for the athletes and organizing committees–but shikataganai, it cannot be helped.)
There’s no sense in isolating ourselves from other people; that’s no way to live. But I think 2020, the year of our national elections, may call for me to work more on internal matters, such as these:
- As mentioned before, write like a madwoman!
- Make a real dent in the TBR (to be read) pile of books and catch up on books that I’ve wanted to read.
- Continue with the weight loss effort. Ten pounds lost so far, but I’ve plateaued for a month. I’ve downloaded the app, loseit, and I’m loving it so far. I’m not into tracking calories, but I think I have to do it to break through. Also, during this summer, start running at least three times a week. (Right now I’m just doing it once, in addition to strength training and zumba.)
- Become more political active, whether it be in donating to campaigns or doing local outreach.
- Clean the house. I’m not a Marie Kondo advocate, but I’ve needed to make things more orderly for years.
- Keep cooking. I’ve really embraced the joy of cooking these past few years. And with the weight loss program, it’s been nice to keep the frig stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Integrate prayer and meditation in my morning routine. I always feel more centered when I do that.
- And while I see the dangers and downsides of social media, keep looking for ways to connect with people through the Internet and digital newsletters.
This year is going to be a roller-coaster ride, no doubt about that. When I concentrate on what I can do rather than what is happening to us, I can have more agency. We certainly cannot control much in the world but we have a responsibility to ourselves and people around us to do as much as we can. I do have to do a shoutout to my old friend, Carolyn Iga, and her faith-based organization, Assignment International, which has been working in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus first originated. Godspeed.