• Holly Whitstock Seeger

Let’s Set Our Intentions, Everyone: COVID-19 will soon be 2020 hindsight—Amen.

Updated: Mar 27


"May you live in interesting times."

Wikipedia has this to say about this English saying usually considered a Chinese curse: "Despite being so common in English as to be known as the "Chinese curse", the saying is apocryphal, and no actual Chinese source has ever been produced."



LONG AGO, WHEN I WAS MY DAUGHTER’S AGE, I, TOO, WAS IMMORTAL. Back then, the year 2020 seemed so unbelievably far off. Now here it is. The above quote keeps coming to mind, its ambiguity and origins ironic, for sure. Without a doubt, we are living in “interesting times,” especially in light of all the finger-pointing and talk about who is responsible for this dreadful COVID-19. My impulse has been to check in far and wide with family and friends. If you haven't heard from me, you will soon. We are all calling, texting, emailing and posting with each other. How would most of us be managing without smartphones and social media, right? This virus will forever change the world and we are all coping one way or another with our reactions to the urgent calls to self-quarantine. For many of us, myself included, lack of sleep is a side effect of watching the constant updates on the situation. Ironically, all that news we thought was so horrible just a month ago is nothing compared to what we are currently watching on the airwaves now.


What’s Going On:

* * *

An old college friend who lives in Florida called yesterday to say he was just recovering from COVID-19. He is officially the first person I personally know to have had it. He assured me he felt fine now and it hadn’t lasted more than 2 - 3 days. Initially, he noticed that he had trouble catching his breath. This was followed by hours of alternating extreme chills and feverish sweats that went on all night. In the morning, feeling a great deal of pressure in his chest, he thought he might be having a heart attack so he went to the Emergency Room. There he was given a nasal swab test, an unexpectedly unpleasant experience about which he proceeded to go into way TMI—I will spare us all the details. The test came back positive. He spent several hours under observation. He began to feel better and after a meeting with the ER doctor about what he should do to take care of himself, he was sent home. They had told them there was really nothing more they could do. His quick recovery was attributed to his active lifestyle and the fact that his antibodies were up from a recent respiratory infection. Yes, he could go biking on the boardwalk, but the doctor advised he should do it at a time when not too many people are around as he was still “shedding.”

* * *

My husband David holds a karate club in our basement, which for the past week has been taking place in the driveway, all kicking and punching at 6’ apart. One of Sensei Dave's students is an infectious disease specialist. Today, “Doc” didn’t show up for class as he had his first COVID-19 patient. The disease is now way too close to home.

* * *

The specter of starkly empty aisles of paper goods still creeps into almost every conversation. Here in our house, we had thought we were well stocked with paper towels until realizing with dismay that the large plastic-wrapped package slumped over in the far corner of the closet was actually toilet paper. No worries in the toilet paper department here, but David became quite concerned about this lack of paper towels. For the first time in 30-plus years of marriage, he is being quite diligent about killing germs and went out looking. At Shoprite, he came across 4 lone rolls on the otherwise empty shelves and was thrilled to be able to purchase one.

* * *

A big concern is my 87-year-old mother, Nan. Proud of her independence, her mind still sharp as a tack, she lives alone way upstate in her own home which, in my opinion, is completely unsuitable for her myriad of health conditions—don’t even get me started. Worry always in the back of my mind, I called her last Friday to make sure that she was safe, her refrigerator was well stocked and to give her an update. I described the madness in the stores down here, about the lack of toilet paper and the empty meat cases. The news down here was all about self-quarantine. The bars and restaurants were closing and our daughter Lily had lost her job. “Really?!” she exclaimed in disbelief, her oxygen machine an ever-present background hum. “Well, wasn’t I the smart one to stay up here in Cortland after all? There’s not even a single case here!” Rolling my eyes, I thought to myself, she is absolutely insufferable! Instead, I simply said, “Please do not go out to any stores, Mom. It seems to be spreading everywhere and you are in absolutely the highest risk group.” In truth, there was very little chance of her actually going anywhere other than her doctor’s appointments as she was usually completely exhausted by the time she got through with them. I just felt I needed to get my point across as it was doubtful I would be able to see her anytime soon. “Don’t worry, dear,” she assured me. Her helper’s boyfriend was going shopping for her in a few minutes and she would add a few more items to the list.

* * *

One of our sons lives 3,000 miles away in L.A. He is single and lives alone, which is code for no actual food in the apartment. Ben called me last week, “Mom, what should I do? The stores are empty and the lines are insane.” I reminded him about what I had always said to the kids when they were growing up. Harkening back to my college days as a cash-strapped art student, I would tell them, “You can always buy rice and beans if you want to make a quick and easy dinner.” How could he have forgotten? He had even made a music video with that line in it, back when he was desperately trying to get me to agree that he should drop out of college—another story entirely. For the record, I never agreed. As we talked about his purchases, a sudden vision of Ben focused on his computer, intent on editing a video flashed into my mind. In the background, an unattended pot was on the stove, aflame with burning rice. “Also, get yourself a non-Teflon rice-cooker,” I added hastily and promptly sent him a link online to that item. Ben texted me later, proud of himself that he had also thought to order frozen vegetables. "He's really growing up," I thought and kept the question to myself as to whether Amazon was really the greatest choice for that sort of purchase. This kid is a scrapper, I reasoned, the only one I know in L. A. without a car, except for our amazing Aunt Mindy, who after all took her cue from him.

* * *

Our daughter insists on remaining in her apartment in Brooklyn—for the time being, anyway—so she says. As I write this, the numbers of those affected in the city are rising and I detect a slightly nervous note in her voice. Concerned about the looming possibility of a mandated self-quarantine to be imposed on New York City and the Five Boroughs, the idea of being stuck in an apartment in Bed-Stuy doesn’t sound appealing to me. I worry now that everything is moving so fast that her options for leaving may be fleeting. We resign ourselves to keeping eyes on her via her Instagram stories and speaking with her daily on Facetime. As long as she's doing handstands and backbends on Insta, she must be okay.

* * *

Got a disconcerting Rockland County Email Alert yesterday afternoon. It began with “This is a message from the Rockland County Department of Health about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. COVID-19 is spreading quickly throughout the County and all residents are advised to stay home including children and teens not in school."

“Okay. Okay. So, that's what we are doing already!” I said aloud after reading the email. Seconds later, I was rattled by the buzzing of my phone alerting me to a call repeating the same thing. Nothing like putting the fear of God in people! My heart pounded in my chest as I punched the button on my phone acknowledging receipt of the message. "Yikes! Yes, I saw this and yes, I am aware!" Does anyone really need this type of fear-based reinforcement about what's happening? I am noticing that all this dire information coming at me from all angles is striking multiple chords of anxiety and fear and affecting me physically. The big question, which others may also be thinking lately, is “Was that pain in my chest from anxiety and stress, or is something else going on?” Thoughts are powerful things. Stay strong and do not allow yourself to get stressed.

* * *

Speaking of stress, my husband, David is a very social person. He loves an audience so this self-quarantine emergency situation is not at all easy for him. He thrives on talking to people and found a solution in being outside working on the property. Amid the blooming forsythia bushes and daffodils pushing up through the ground, he has already completed a full Spring clean-up. I must say that our yard has never looked better! While he’s out there working off his own anxiety, he is also doing what he loves to do—chatting with the neighbors passing by and maintaining a respectable social distance of 6 feet, of course. As is his nature, he continues to combat this dire dilemma with his own inimitable humor.

* * *

This past Thursday, March 12, Kim Kardashian tweeted about an eerie prediction made by the renowned psychic, Sylvia Browne in her book, Prophecy (2004). The exact projection was this:


“By 2020, we’ll see more people than ever wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves in public, inspired by an outbreak of a severe pneumonia-like illness that attacks both the lungs and the bronchial tubes and is ruthlessly resistant to treatment. This illness will be particularly baffling in that, after causing a winter of absolute panic, it will seem to vanish completely until ten years later, making both its source and its cure that much more mysterious.”


No, I am not a follower of Kim on Twitter. This came up in my radar simply because I have been working as a website designer with the Sylvia Browne Group for several years. The impact of this social media tweet has resulted in a flood of hundreds of emails for Chris Dufresne, Sylvia’s son, who is also a Psychic. He and his staff are seeing firsthand the fear and uncertainty of so many seeking answers and consolation. Sylvia Browne was not always correct in every prediction she ever made, but for her to even say out loud what she thought she saw for the future was very brave. Let’s just say that in this case, she certainly hit the nail right on the head.

* * *

For those living alone and/or not so socially inclined, we need to be aware they may need a friend to talk to.

* * *

Some people I have spoken to have mentioned that their kids are disappointed because they wanted Grandma to come over and help with the grandkids. We have the opposite perspective going on here. Last Friday, our oldest son, Max called to say that he and his adorable boys were not coming over to visit us the following day because David and I were over 60 and high risk. Although my initial reaction had more to do with the disturbing realization that I was being viewed by my own child as a Senior citizen—what!—this conversation put an entirely new perspective on my relationship with my mother. Max also gave me a very stern admonition about going out anywhere. I was not allowed to go to the gym and, as far as the stores go, I should order online and have it delivered . . . how the tables have turned!

* * *

Speaking of the gym, my coach, Tom Jimenez of Xtreme Bootcamp is now holding his classes on Facebook Live. Others have the same idea, as well. My sister-my guru, Ivy just sent me a link to a qigong seminar on Zoom with her teacher, Chris Ferni, which is to be all about building qi to ward off COVID-19. Over here, Sensei Dave is even considering "putting the 'Show' in Shorin-Ryu" by holding his karate classes on YouTube. This may well be the new trend or even the new normal.

* * *

Well, the “new normal” as long as the Internet holds up. David just came inside and the TV is on once again, blaring at top volume one scary thing after another. Just heard a news flash that the web may not be able to withstand the volume of so many people now working from home. For the time being, Netflix has compensated by eliminating HD screenings, which are evidently taking up too much bandwidth. Seems hard to believe, right?

* * *

This year, my St. Patrick’s Day phone call to my mother was especially appropriate as, several months ago, we had confirmed that she is full-on Irish, not the half English/half-Irish she was led to believe since childhood. “So what’s new?” I asked and she launched into a detailed description of her latest doctor’s appointment that afternoon. She also had two more next week. “Mom, is it really that important to go have a routine check-up right now?” I was concerned. “I just heard that there was a confirmed case of the virus the next town over.” “Really?” she exclaimed. “A case around here?!” She just couldn't believe it. There was silence for a beat, and then acquiesced, “Well, you were right about the toilet paper aisle being empty.” “Oh? What else did your helper have to say about the store?” I was curious. “Well, I actually saw it for myself!” she declared. “On the way back from the doctor, I made her stop at Tops so I could go in and see for myself what you were talking about.” To hear her say it, one might think this was something she did on a regular basis, not the lone trip there in the past 6-9 months—at the worst possible time, no less! “Besides, I needed a few things,” she explained defensively. Dumbfounded, I saw myself reflected in the eyes of my son Max.

* * *

Later, when I mentioned the Nan story to our son, Sam, he was quick to place the blame squarely on her favorite show, Fox News, asserting that they had been taking the whole COVID-19 matter way too lightly—until just recently, that is.

* * *

Ben called to say that the rice and the beans had arrived in no time flat but that he had received an email from Amazon letting him know that there were no more frozen vegetables to be found anywhere. As a result, frozen mangos had been substituted in his order. They hoped he didn’t mind. Moments later, there they were outside his door. His freezer was now full of them. Did I have any recipes? He also talked about the fact that although self-quarantine was much the same as being a freelance editor working out of his own apartment, the only difference is that before he didn’t mind not going out. Now that he can’t leave, he finds himself consumed with an irresistible urge to do so. He is getting bored and anxious and spends hours on the phone with his siblings, mostly with Sam.

* * *

Many of my friends and family are creative people. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of us are actually finding solace in finally getting work done. Aside from the horrors of this plague, for us artists, self-quarantine isn't really all that bad. Artists can always find something to do. Haven’t I complained for years that I never have the time to paint? No excuses, now. So Sam and I are doing just that. Everyone might want to try it, whether or not one considers oneself artistic, which of course is a self-limiting belief. It's just plain good for the soul to get lost in art and we could all use a lot of that right now.

* * *

I want to express gratitude to all the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, plus the EMS Corps and Police Departments in all our communities, for the bravery and care of all those afflicted with COVID-19 now and on until it dies out.

* * *

I close now with a prayer adapted for this current situation from one of my favorite go-to books, The Gentle Way by Tom T. Moore. Thank you, Norman, for bringing it to my attention. Stay well, be safe and please send out all your best intentions to the world for healing if you believe, as I do, in that power.

* * *

"I ask that all beings in the world who are suffering from or have been exposed to the CORVID-19 disease immediately receive all the assistance they need from all those beings who can help them and may the most benevolent outcome be the rapid eradication and dissipation of this disease faster and better than we could ever imagine.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Amen."

—Tom T. Moore

The Gentle Way:

A Self-Guide For Those

Who Believe in Angels,

Adaption from

“Concerning Disease”

page 104.

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