All of us in Catalonia and Spain can now proudly say we are about to have survived the second week of confinement. As my tiredness vanishes away, my body and mind feel the pressure of the imprisonment in form of frustration. Even though work alleviates the boredom that would definitely loom up when one can’t get out for a simple stroll, my eyes are getting tired of screens and my mood is not yet a roller-coaster, but has ups and downs.
Nobody knows what the future holds, how teachers will have to carry on with the classes, how long they are going to be postponed or if we will be able to see our students again this academic year and this is really very sad. As days go by, I have the feeling that my morning ride to work was a liberating experience. Seeing other people’s faces, breathing the morning cold air, moving around, being exhausted from the street, all this has become rare and desirable. Many of us are convinced that we will not be able to go on holiday this year. The measures will not have been capable of eradicating the virus. It will be probably still be too dangerous to let people move around. But when are we going to be able to go for a walk with somebody else? That is driving most of us crazy.
My doses of homely sport which consisted in going up and down the stairs as far as I can are now forbidden. The government does not allow any exercise in common areas of buildings and, unfortunately enough for me, I don’t have a house and barely any chances of having one ever, so I am also punished.
As always in those cases, Catalan celebrities have volunteered to be on TV Spots to spread the message “jo també em quedo a casa” “ I also stay home”. Not that it helps when you see them playing football with the kits in a kitchen bigger than my entire flat, or in training rooms that are an upper floor of a cottage. Confinement is definitely easier in bigger spaces than in small ones and if I had a private swimming pool at home, I wouldn’t be dying for some exercise as I am now.
I was lucky enough to have an excuse to get out again on Tuesday. I had to go to the clinic to pick up clothes for my father. The cold wind woke me up when I was riding my bike. The city seems a scenario for a post-nuclear world film. Very few cars moved around and only some people were enjoying the pavement when I was out. I saw several walking their dogs and some with their trolleys to go shopping, most of them with masks. Some empty streets are the witness of a past cheerful life that has been restricted to the very minimum, leaving us with empty spaces in our minds. It’s only now that I consider that thought and action have to be balanced in order to reach a healthy equilibrium. Till two weeks ago I had little time for thought and I missed the possibility of reflecting upon changes in my life. Now I have the minutes and hours to do it, but I lack the activity that can make me a happy person.
Inevitably, I have started to believe the entire world order has been turned upside down by the virus and will not be the way it was ever again. This sudden slow down of the economy will lead many medium-sized companies to their bankruptcy. And even bigger companies such as airlines will have to cut down costs and downsize when they start transporting passengers again. I know economy is not prior to human beings. Saving every life is the goal we have in this race against Covid-19. We are making the effort in order to go back to our lives as soon as possible, but will that be a reality soon? Truth is we are all convinced we are going to be locked for 2 months. And then maybe they will start letting us go for a walk or a stroll from time to time. On our own to avoid people flocking to go to places to meet even more people.
It’s only today I have seen on TV that some cities in China are slowly allowing citizens to commute to other parts. The Chinese Wall allows visitors again, albeit not the masses of tourists it used to have. It allowed only 20,000 in a day. For me still an incredible amount, yet it has nothing to do with what it used to endure only a couple of months ago. But then again, we have to wonder whether it was desirable to squeeze ourselves in claustrophobic planes to sit uncomfortably for hours in order to visit monuments and places we can’t enjoy because of the crowds.
Maybe our planet and also we needed a break from this madness: cars, trains, busses, lights, carbon dioxide, noise, food being transported from remote corners of the world to cater for our greed for the exotic.
The air is cleaner now and pollution has decreased astonishingly in less than two weeks. And our bodies, used to the everyday stress of breathing in exhaust fumes, can recover a bit from the burden of the excess of unnatural factors in our lives.
You can now argue that working in front of a screen and hardly moving around is not healthy and it’s true. But I guess most people have taken up yoga, or any other exercise to compensate for the lack of sport. I started my stretching exercises two weeks ago and now I want to complete the exercise with aerobics.
I still think that the confinement period is a break from everything and one that we will all remember for a long time. This event will for sure remain a situation that different generations will recall for years to come and that is positive too. Have you ever thought how different the worlds of 50-year-olds and those of 15-year-olds are? Teenagers grow up nowadays in an atmosphere of constant competition and distraction by the media. Their everyday life and worries have nothing to do with those in my generation. Of course, there are some things in common such as concern about the future and about finding a potential mate. But that’s just human nature. The life of my students bears no resemblance with the one I had at their age. And I sometimes feel there is a distance caused by the generation gap. However, the situation we are going through now has created a common place for all of us regardless of our age.
We start conversations with “how is confinement?” “How are you coping with it?” “How is your family?” the Covid-19 crisis has made us want to be less distant when the physical distance has become bigger.
I know human beings tend to forget quickly what they have learned or experienced. Most of them at least, but not all of us.
And a great amount of us have to reinvent ourselves in order to create spaces where we can keep in touch with our workmates, clients or students.
For next week the big challenge will be to hold lectures online. And you won’t believe it, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be just as nervous as the first time I entered a physical classroom.
The same as last week, I have to be eternally thankful for the possibilities technology offers us. I used to think it is alienating mankind but now I see it can bring us together too.