I scan the news. I work. I scan my email. I work. I refresh my Twitter feed as I eat. The stress bands at the base of my neck are back as is a near-constant headache. This time though, I know the cause for the stress, COVID-19 aka Coronavirus.
I have watched from afar, in horror, as the numbers grew in China. I devoured the news as I watched it spread to Japan, the Koreas, Iran and then Italy. I watched, fascinated as epidemiologists and data scientists drilled down the numbers and made projections. When not if was all I was hearing in my precious bubble.
I prepared the way I do best. I armed myself with information. I refilled prescriptions. No, I did not grab extra toilet paper. I did get an extra bag of rice and made sure the dals I use every day had backups.
Mostly, I followed the CDC and WHO. I followed people I thought were rational, asking people not to panic but prepare to practice social distancing.
In the midst of this, I heard from the publisher of my children’s book stating they may not have the marketing budget for my much-anticipated book launch and tour. In another time and world, I would have despaired, venting my outrage on poor Saathi. This time around, I let myself mourn the loss of a dream for a few minutes and moved on. It was a blip in an otherwise normal day consumed by the news.
Today, WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. What does that mean for me, for my family, for the world around me? School closings? Working remotely? Lack of prescription refills? Social isolation? Deaths?
It is too early to tell. We have a few confirmed cases near us. What it means for us as a community and as society remains to be seen.
What I do know is that it reinforces the irrelevance of almost everything in my life right now. It hyper focuses and points the beacon onto the things I cherish most. My family and their collective health.
Once this scare is in the past, once I get back to living my otherwise normal life, I want to remember this day, this week, this time of staring into the unknown and remind myself of the immutable truth.
Nothing matters except my people.