I am a 26 year old English teacher in an urban school district. My day begins in the dark, is filled with the juggling of seemingly impossible needs from too many students, and ends with exhaustion and the pit in my stomach of dissatisfaction. I am too busy too much of the time, with no opportunity to pursue my dreams.
Do I say this to slam the education profession? Not at all. I love my job, and I love my students. However, the Coronavirus has created the kind of "your work day is cancelled" that I have found myself praying for.
Usually at this time I'm in a dank cinderblock room trying to force melancholy (and sometimes blatantly belligerent) students to care about the psychological allegory of Lord of the Flies, while a growing wave of disenchantment threatens to drown me. However, I am currently sitting in my sun-washed kitchen, with two cats curled warmly around my feet, and a hot cup of tea on the table before me. I can get up to pee whenever I want, I can eat whenever I want, and - is this a miracle from Heaven? - I can even nap whenever I want.
Now, while these things are deliciously refreshing, I am mostly jesting. However, this break from normality has stirred within me the desire for change in my life. Out of nowhere, the Earth found its schedules slashed with a huge red "TO BE DETERMINED," and, far from demoralizing me, this has awoken butterflies within my stomach that I had long believed to have rotted in their cocoons. Suddenly, I am gripped with the realization that I can pursue the desires of my heart that I've shushed into dormancy so that I can cope with the regularity of my unfulfilling, but responsible schedule.
I've been given the gift of time. Free time. Of space to dream, to ponder in. It's like the walls of the rat race have suddenly come down and I'm blinking in the sunlight of new opportunity.
Obviously, this raging, vile virus is not a breath of fresh air. No, I in no way mean to demean the struggle and fear that we are all nose to nose with. But, could it be that there is a silver lining to these dark and ominous storm clouds blanketing us? I think there is.
As much as COVID is threatening the function of my lungs, I can't help but find truth in the fact that they seem to be inhaling more deeply than ever in this unexpected and startling freedom that I've found myself in.
Now the real question is - what will I do with it? What will any of us do with it? Can we collectively struggle through the marsh of this infection with the determination to let beauty rise from its ashes? Can we determine together to let life, creative life even, blink newborn eyes and reach out weak fingers to grasp onto the opportunity that we've been given?
I want to. I need to.
What will you use this time for?
What will you have to show for it?
Thank you, Coronavirus. Although your presence is a reeking stain on our lives and our history books, you've woken us up.
We will give back more than you've taken from us.