Vexations and Conundrums
By Katina Pontikes
I blew the whistle on the Covid reprieve too early. Omicron sprang up and surprised everyone. The governments around the planet seemed short on tests, short on medications, short on hospital beds. They underestimated how many frontline employees would catch the virus and be unable to report for duty. I watched the news in horror, as all my plans for returning to my prior life were delayed again. This isolation feels unending.
My holidays had been very unusual. I took vaccination polls from anyone who was coming over to deliver gifts. “Are you boosted?” replaced “Are you vaccinated?” One of my family members answered incorrectly, and we had to delay Christmas until the curve dies down. I had phone visits with unvaccinated people. Yes, I know a very few people who still won’t vaccinate.
Some friends offered to take me out to lunch for my holiday birthday, a couple of weeks before the actual birth date. I put my foot down that we had to dine outside. It was sunny, and very windy. One friend asked, “Why aren’t we eating inside?” I could only answer that I wasn’t doing that right now. I sensed their judgement that I was paranoid, over-reacting. They obviously weren’t studying world case counts like I was. Two weeks later, as Omicron exploded on the scene, I sensed a changing tide as everyone knew multiple people with the virus. I felt a change in attitudes as I received text after text that either they or family members were stricken.
Right before Christmas I started noticing something unusual for me. I’m a list maker, enjoying checking off what I have accomplished. My lists, on sticky notes, sat all over my work area. Nothing got checked. I started each day scanning the lists, thinking about what I should be doing, then walking away to check the news or think about food.
I have exercises I am supposed to be doing for a bad hip. I’d look at the photo examples of the moves, stare at the yellow exercise band, think about the reps…and turn away to some mundane tasks.
Thank you notes, which I write the old-fashioned way, on note cards, were not being written. I thought about my tardiness in acknowledging the generosity of my friends. What was going on here? I gave it a name: Covid Procrastination Syndrome (CPS, for brevity) I think this virus has robbed me of my ambition. Thank goodness I am not still working at a job. I’d get fired.
I asked my sister who was visiting and observing my overflowing, unproductive work area if she had experienced anything like this. “Every day,” she responded. Perhaps there are others of us out there, worn down, exhausted from bad news, trying like crazy to stay upbeat.
I don’t think CPS is contagious. My husband has lost twenty pounds and walks a measured 10,000 steps a day. His phone is recording the steps. I sit on my chair and watch him walk. I haven’t shared his joyful weight loss.
However, there is hope. When I truly started worrying where I was sliding down to, I picked up a pen and convinced myself to write just one note. Once the ink started to flow, and I offered positive messages of gratitude to beloved contacts, something tipped inside of me. One note became six and the next day I was able to write seven. I only have one more note to write and it isn’t late, as the others were.
I think the key cure to this syndrome is gratitude. If any of you have been struck by an inexplicable desire to freeze in time, you may want to search for the good things in the moment. I assure you, no matter how rough things are, there are still tiny sparks of good, waiting for you to ignite them, and yourself in the process.
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