Announced on March 29th was a precaution taken against the Coronavirus. What was that precaution? Social distancing and staying away from each other for who knows how long. They’ve closed beaches, parks, and many other recreational areas that we all enjoy. While we are able to go out and scavenge for toilet paper, water, and bread what we ultimately crave is each other. We want to be with each other and not socially demarcated. Staying at home isn’t easy and we as humans aren’t wired that way. We need to be in connection with each other in order to survive. As I write this, I think about two questions: What if quarantine isn’t what we think it is? What if it serves a greater purpose?
We can see quarantine as a way of social anxiety endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat or we can use this time, not creating a prison within our own minds, to get to truly know ourselves. Facebook, Instagram and other social media have been used beautifully during this time to connect us and make us feel like we aren’t alone. We are not alone because we have each other. But most importantly, this is a time for introspection. Now is the time to truly look inward and figure out who we are and what we want out of life. So as the title of the article suggests, how can quarantine be considered a gift? I believe the gift is time. We have all of this extra time on our hands because this world has slowed down. Slowing down can effectively make us more productive. I don’t mean productivity in the sense of being busy. I mean being productive with ourselves. There are many ways in which we can be productive such as journaling, reading, and doing the things we were afraid to do. Also, we can ask ourselves, how can we connect with others on a more deep and intimate level?
This quarantine is not just about ourselves but through loving ourselves more we can help others. The late Toni Morrison, who passed away last year, in her novel A Mercy expresses this kindness beautifully. A Mercy tells the story of American slavery and its horrendous acts towards a female slave named Florens. Florens moves from relationship to relationship trying to figure out who she is within the systemic world she lives in. What I want to illuminate is the relationship between the Reverend Father (a Priest) and Florens. In the midst of a system that dehumanizes Florens’ very being the Reverend Father character comes as a gift to her. Morrison writes, “Finally he takes rags, strips of sailcloth lying about and wraps my feet. Now I am knowing that unlike with Senhor, Priest are unloved here”(8). The Reverend Father addresses her for who she is which human. His kindness exceeds that of anyone else in the novel because he sees Florens. In the same way, we can show that sort of kindness towards others. Whether it be through Zoom, text, call, or any other form of communication. We can only do this when we take care of ourselves first. As I stated earlier, taking care of ourselves is us being kind to ourselves. This is where the gift of quarantine takes place in the present-tense. We can love each other and see each other as gifts.