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love in the time of coronavirus

I’ve barely left my house in nearly 3 weeks, which edges out my previous record from many years as a homebody. You could say that we’re in a strange time. No one really knows how to handle this situation because it’s never happened before, but I’ve found solace in the ways that some people are coping with the stress of the times. I’m trying to see it all as love. Love takes on different forms in different times. In this unprecedented state of the world, it’s hard to know what form love could take. We know what love looks like in day-to-day life or during recessions or during times of prosperity, but what does love look like in the time of a pandemic? These days love sometimes feels unrecognizable, hidden by layers of anxiety and fear. But underneath all of that, I see a common thread of love, similar to the Greek agape, characterized by seeking the best for others.

Nowadays, love may come in an onslaught of information. Sometimes it can emerge when someone shares a flood of instructions or every single news article about the subject, hoping to salve the stress with an ocean of facts. It may come through yelling and screaming, as one urges their friends, their family, anyone who will listen, that certain things must be done to keep us all safe. The concern is love, too.

Love appears in how rediscover how much we need each other. We’ve continuously focused on our individualities and identities for our whole loves, but now we all share circumstances. All at once, we realize how horrible it is to be isolated from our kind. We try and forget about real world to take care of our islands in Animal Crossing and we fill their newly emptied calendars with video calls. As we must push each other away physically, we search for ways to pull each other closer in other ways. Love is in the creativity that turns video windows into game rooms and movie theaters, concert venues and prayer halls. Love finds itself in the art that we create, as we try to connect with each other when we can’t physically.

On a more personal level, it’s comforting to think of unanswered texts as acts of self-love, even if it has been 3 months since I’ve heard from them. My newsletter and tweets? Love-loaded messages of meaning. In all seriousness, I’ve found a lot of comfort in great art lately, including newsletters, podcasts, and books. So, I think this is the time for everyone to share, in any way that they can, as a way to love and a way to allay the collective discomfort.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

The late Mr. Rogers is well-remembered for recognizing the helpers and for being a helper. He brought education and calm to children across the country. He taught love and compassion. So let’s be like Mr. Rogers and find the love and compassion within ourselves. Practice social distancing. Drink lots of water, eat healthy, and maintain enough movement to keep your immune system healthy. Remember to breathe. And if you’re able, donate to a local food bank or mutual aid group.
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Nikhil · 325327 Georgia Tech Station · Atlanta, GA 30332 · USA

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