A month of distancing
No one would have expected 2020 to be so rough.
In the first quarter, we went through relentless wildfires that burned across Australia, followed by torrential rains, then shocked by Kobe's tragic death and now coronavirus, which has infected more than a million people globally. And Parasite winning the Ocsars best picture seems like ages away 🤦🏻♀️!
This is the time when I couldn't help but feel that -
“days seem like years and years feel like days”
It was in late January when I heard about the outbreak in China, at which time the world outside of China was still enjoying the rally in stock market, barely alarmed.
I have to admit that I was not one of those who were completely ahead of the curve in noting the potential threat of this virus.However, after the lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei Province before CNY and gradual implementation of travel bans, I decided to avoid the crowded Chinatown for spring festival.
I also remember vividly during a lunch before a colleague heading back home for CNY, I jokingly said he might have trouble coming back to Australia if the situation got worse. I was half right.
Scrolling down my Twitter feeds, I was amazed by how many people putting on masks on their profiles, and seeing more and more advocates of masks for trust and protection. However, I didn't see myself liking any tweets relating to Covid before Jan 24, at which time there was only 941 reported cases globally.
I had to double-check those numbers to make sure it's correct. The world is never be the same place again.
Since then, more and more coverage came through and I began to scout around for information in both Chinese and western media.
Going viral— Balaji Srinivasan (@balajis) January 30, 2020
What if this coronavirus is the pandemic that public health people have been warning about for years?
It would accelerate many pre-existing trends.
- border closures
- social isolation
- remote work
- face masks
- distrust in governments
And the dashboard from Johns Hopkins University is still my favourite of the year.
One thing I've learned in 2020 is that I really started to cherish the limited time I can spend with my family and people I care about. Life is too short to hesitate and then regret.
I began calling my parents a lot often than before, chit chatting, letting them know I'm safe and I miss them from time to time. I'm also getting more expressive of my feelings and appreciations.
I couldn't be more grateful knowing that happiness in life sometimes is just that simple.
Here summarises a few things that I'd like to continue doing beyond this pandemic:
- 🧼wash hands thoroughly and often (a good video here)
- 📱clean up devices you carry around all day all night (check out what you can use here)
- 🧻have some strategic reserve of food, masks, disinfectant wipes, sanitisers and yes, toilet paper
- 🤗communicate with your family and loved ones often
Throughout February, the confirmed cases soared in China and the virus began to spread around the world. My WeChat feed was centred around Covid, praise for medical professionals, various homemade food, dance videos, online learning and working from home.
I listened to a podcast by Ryan Selkis and Balaji Srinivasan on Covid-19 (by which time there was still very few podcasts talking about it) and also finished reading the book The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig (which influenced my thinking towards war and disaster). That week, I decided to prepare for a potential lockdown when there was fewer than 30 cases across the entire Australia.
At the beginning of March, things were starting to get more serious, and I became quite paranoid about people coughing or sneezing on public transportation. Feeling uncomfortable commuting to work via public transport, I decided to work from home before the rest of the company, and I found myself lucky that the team showed great support for my decision. Later in the week, the entire company shifted online and everyone has been working from home since then.
How's life now?
First of all, I'm incredibly grateful that I'm currently in a safe and comfortable position without the need to worry about health or financial security. My company has also been extremely supportive and gone extra miles to spread good vibes in this new environment.
In the US, only 29% of the people can work remotely, and the jobless claims have surged to unprecedented levels in history. There were days when I got hit so hard by news on the virus and recession, but when I looked outside the window, the world seemed so calm and peaceful.
It's really hard to put thoughts together as there are so many moving pieces. We are still living through history.
After more than a month of self-isolating, I'd just like to curate a list of things to share that improve my quality of life at home.
😋 Treat yourself with good food
Cooking can be one of the most soothing or daunting things depending on who you ask.
I find preparing food and doing dishes time-consuming, but it's also super satisfying when you cook a very nice meal for yourself and your family. Eating is how we bond together (think of how many social activities that involve eating - ceremonies, outings, dates etc).
Here's a non-exhaustive display of meals I prepared for myself lately and I got lots of inspirations from utoshi, cao_life, and asa_hehe.
As I cook mostly Chinese and Japanese food, I follow these YouTube cooking channels for food ideas 👇
🎨 Things you previously had no time for
Last year, I picked up painting again and attended weekly classes. The schedule was completely disrupted since the outbreak, and the studio was shut down due to closure of non-essential businesses.
Below are some of the watercolour paintings I had in the past few weeks, inspired by the artworks of Studio Ghibli. Every one of them took more than 2 hours to complete, and I really enjoyed the block of time without any distraction, purely music and art.
It has become such a luxury to concentrate, considering everything in the world is trying to grab our attention and to compete for very limited time in a day. Work or study occupies most of our weekdays, online streaming for our eyes, podcasts and music for our ears and more.
Maybe it's a good time to slow down, to self-reflect and self-focus?
“Think of nothing things, think of wind.”
📚 Keep reading and learning
I'd probably join the crowd playing Animal Crossing, Just Dance or Ring Fit Adventure if I had Nintendo Switch. To be honest, I felt really tempted to pre-order one the other day, but I knew I wouldn't spend too much time on it. Don't get me wrong, I like video games, and clearly it will become a key component of Metaverse.
Not owning a gaming console works for me in this lockdown, as I've been going through online courses to brush up my data skills (if interested, you can find the curriculum here and here).
I wouldn't say I read more than before but here is a short list of books and articles I enjoyed or find helpful:
Articles & Essays
- Emma Watson and Author Valerie Hudson Discuss “Sex and World Peace”
- Analysis of compensation, level, and experience details of 19k tech workers
- Covid Observations from Beijing, March 11
- Why Having a Quarter Life Crisis was the Best Thing That’s Happened to Me
- Dr. Ai Fen, 艾芬, the Wuhan Whistle
- ‘You think Trump will save you?': my nine days detained by North Korea's secret police
- All Revenue is Not Created Equal: The Keys to the 10X Revenue Club
- Coronavirus Resources & Readings
Besides, I'm also trying to maintain regular workout, relax after work by watching some shows, chatting with family and friends, and I think I might get into baking 😂?
There's one last thing I'd like to share, which is about Wuhan, the city where the first coronavirus case was recorded. On April 8, the lockdown of the city officially ended, and this video makes me see light at the end of the tunnel.