Silver Linings of the Shutdown

As we approach the one-year mark of the Covid pandemic, let’s stop and take stock. Depending on where you live and who you are, the “Covid experience” can be like night and day. Some have lost loved ones, their livelihood, their health. Others are chugging along, more or less as usual, albeit wearing masks, working from home, and indefinitely postponing travel.

I live in Vancouver, a city with relatively low Covid rates. I’m among the lucky ones in the latter group. We Vancouverites should have zero complaints. The virus itself is a terrible thing, but hasn’t the shutdown and the “new normal” brought positive changes, too? Let’s look for silver linings. I’ll go first.

ZOOM YOGA One year ago I was a confirmed non-video person. Not anti video, but simply a non user. Suddenly I had to pivot to virtual yoga teaching. I had to upgrade my tech equipment, learn about webcams and mics, test video-meetings apps, and adapt to onscreen communication. The pandemic nudged me into the 21st century.

MASKS At first I found masks uncomfortable. But I don’t mind them anymore. I sometimes like the modicum of anonymity a mask provides—and it keeps my face warm in freezing temperatures. Even post Covid, I might wear a mask every winter to avoid cold and flu viruses. Do you know anyone who’s caught a cold this season?

SOLITUDE I’m an introvert. I can be sociable and outgoing, but I need to balance people time with alone time. So social distancing is not difficult for me. I enjoy solitude. I like eating at home. I can spend hours reading, writing, practicing yoga, living in my own head. I’m never bored. Note: I do have two significant others (one is canine and larger than life). And I do depend on the Internet to feel connected.

EXERCISE Since last March I’ve done early morning hill walks/jogs three times weekly. I typically reserve this routine for summer and stop in October when the rainy season starts. This year I’m still at it—now wearing wool and Gore-Tex! Looks like I’ll make it all the way to this March, no stops!

HYGIENE I’m a bit of a germophobe, so I’m all for the new cleaning protocols. My dentist ran a pristine office before Covid, but now it’s armed with even more powerful suction units, HEPA filters, antimicrobial foggers, and so forth. Businesses now limit occupancy, ventilate with open windows and doors, require mask use, and disinfect countertops and card machines. I’ve always carried a tiny bottle of Purell in my bag, but now I can find hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. Yes!

NO COMMUTE When yoga studios and community centres had to shut down last year, I missed seeing my yoga students in person. But I suddenly had no commute. Now I rarely drive or ride the bus. Teaching from home is a major time saver. My students agree; some who formerly took one in-person class now take two or three Zoom classes weekly.

MY NEIGHBORHOOD I’ve always loved my neighborhood, Kitsilano, a mix of leafy residential streets, lots of parks and beaches, and commercial thoroughfares along Broadway and West 4th Avenue. But I now appreciate its walkability even more. I can find everything I need—groceries, banks, library, post office, dog-walking destinations—within walking distance.

DOG TIME You probably assume that my sadhana (daily philosophical discipline) is my yoga practice. Well, it might actually be my dog time: morning training drills, afternoon walks. Stella, almost 80 pounds of pure energy and athleticism (plus random bursts of impulsiveness), is both joy and challenge. This beautiful beast tests me physically, mentally, emotionally. This past year, sans commute, I rarely had to rush my time with her—and even taught her a few new tricks.

CINEMA AND TV The shutdown might be saving me commute time but, go figure, I feel busier than ever. Who are those people baking sourdough bread and rewatching all seven seasons of Mad Men? Currently, all I can manage is a “whenever I have time” retrospective of Wes Anderson’s movies in chronological order (I most recently viewed one of my faves, The Darjeeling Limited). I don’t watch much TV, but highly recommend Ted Lasso on Apple TV+.

Of course I miss some aspects of the “old normal.” I want to travel, to visit faraway family and friends, to sit in a cafe, to see people’s smiles. But I know full well that I’m fortunate—and that my “new normal” ain’t all that bad.

Image: Hastings Mill Park, Vancouver, December 2020, Luci Yamamoto.

16 comments

  1. Silver linings. Many are suffering during the pandemic but for me it has been a time to reflect on the many things for which I am grateful. Thank you Luci for returning to teaching an in-person class. 👍😘

    Like

  2. Hi Luci, I agree with most of what you say about silver linings but I’m an extrovert and I find the enforced social isolation maddening. Glad to hear you’re doing well. Namaste, Mark

    Like

  3. Spot on Luci. So many valid and relatable points, and not a cold to be seen. Your website is beautifully designed and easy to use. Super photos of you too. Happy to see the Yoga Spy collection still available. Keep me on your mailing list please.

    Like

  4. Luci, I agree with your comments on the benefits of a slower and quieter life, and I agree that I’m plenty busy nonetheless. I would add another silver lining: although I can’t travel to visit family and friends, I have attended birthdays, funerals, and other celebrations via Zoom, which I might have foregone in previous years – too far, too expensive, too time consuming.

    Like

    1. Good point, Sharon. And “virtual travel” is much greener. I find Zoom effective for yoga teaching, but distracting for long face-to-face conversations due to the “eye contact” disconnect (between camera and screen). But better than nothing!

      Like

  5. I too am more of an Introvert and enjoy solitude. The Pandemic has only raised my gratitude for my comfortable life on Vancouver Island. So many folks are less fortunate and really struggling.

    One of the silver linings for me has been the opportunity to study with Iyengar teachers all over the world (India, Israel, Canada and the U.S.A.) – all without stepping outside of the comfort of my own little practice room. Ah the bliss of Savasana after a Pranayama practice and not having to get up and go somewhere. I’m not fond of travelling so this is a total win for me and significantly less expensive.

    Your comment, “Who are those people baking sourdough bread and rewatching all seven seasons of Mad Men?” made me laugh. Same here, my days are full – not that I am adverse to either of those activities.

    Another silver lining – I applaud the increased emphasis on cleanliness and spacing in public areas – let’s keep that!

    Like

  6. Hi Luci – my silver lining (soon upgrading to gold) is I can reserve and swim at our community pool. We have a maximum of three swimmers per lane – wonderful! Feel fortunate I can do this when others have many limitations.

    I liked learning about your cinema and TV favourites. I plan to investigate Ted Lasso!

    Like

  7. Thanks, Luci. Always enjoy your newsletter and appreciated your list of silver linings. My personal favorite is “hygiene.” I wouldn’t think of riding the subway without my hand sanitizer — pandemic or not!

    Doing my best to adjust to the “new normal” while living in Brooklyn, NY. What I miss the most is all the art & culture I used to partake in weekly. Even when the shutdown officially ends, who knows when I’ll feel “comfortable” attending a play, concert, or art exhibit indoors. 2022? Once I get vaccinated?

    Sure, I miss my trips to the Whitney Museum and Lincoln Center. But, like everyone else, I’ve adapted and have enjoyed several excellent theater productions online. I’m grateful to these artists for pursuing their craft despite the challenges of virtual performances. Bravo!

    Speaking of silver linings, look how fast scientists were able to develop a vaccine. Pretty incredible feat when you think about it. Now we just need to work on distribution. Here’s to a healthier future.

    Like

    1. Wonder if urban life is permanently changed? In addition to museums and theaters, retailers and restaurants might never have the same “audience.” (Yoga studios?). Good point about the vaccine: modern science and technology. Many thanks for commenting, TC!

      Like

  8. So many good points that I agree with. One more though and one of my favorites is no waits for many appointments. I’ve been to the doctor and just yesterday for a mammogram and I was thrilled with the in/out time! No getting there early, no sitting and waiting. Just in and out. I hope businesses can maintain this after the pandemic.

    Like

    1. You’re right, Nancy. Short waits in general. I do see queues outside popular shops with limited occupancy, such as Banyen Books (a positive sign in this case; go indie booksellers!).

      Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: