Five Things COVID-19 has taught me about life – Nnedi Okorafor
I can’t say I’ve learned many new things about life. However, I can say that I’ve learned things on an emotional level that I once only understood on an intellectual level.
Let’s call those things…
1. COVID-19 loves us. I’ve always had a love and fascination with the microworld and microorganisms. These creatures, beings, bodies are so tiny yet so active, influential and so powerful. COVID-19, however, loves us back…too much. It wants to fly into our mouths, travel into our eyes, settle in our ears. It wants to spread itself on the surfaces of our counters, hitch a ride on our clothes. It wants to hang out and stick to our lungs and hug our hearts tightly enough to send us into cardiac arrest. It wants to be with us so badly that it’ll settle for travelling into our homes on the bottoms of our shoes. Yes, COVID-19 loves us…and our immune systems are superheroes we don’t praise enough.
2. Human beings and our activities, wants, needs, joys are truly toxic to this Earth. Again, I knew this already; those of us willing to be honest with ourselves know this. However, look at the response of the Earth to human beings stopping in our tracks and going inside. The air is cleaner, the skies are bluer, seismologists report lower vibrations around he planet, the animals are coming out bold and beautiful as can be. Nature is bouncing back. Even in my tiny neck of the woods, I can see it. I can’t name a time in all my eight years living here where I’ve been awakened by two blue jays fighting a hawk while a crow sat in a nearby tree commenting on the situation. There’s a woodpecker who has made it its mission to hammer at the tree outside my bedroom window every afternoon. Two mallard ducks landed in a tree near my living room window. There was a goose on the roof of the church across the street. I saw the neighborhood fox trot by in broad daylight. I live in the south Chicago suburbs and it’s Wild America out there. The natural world is ecstatic that the humans have quieted and it shows.
3. Writing science fiction during a pandemic is…weird. But damn fulfilling. That’s all I’ll say about that.
4. Fear truly is the mind killer. To quote the classic novel Dune: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” Throughout this pandemic, if there is one thing most of us have shared it’s a sense of fear. However, it’s the reaction to it that says the most about a person.
The American president has amped up his lies to an all time high. Holy men purposely expose themselves and those who they are supposed to be leading to the virus to make a point and keep normalcy (i.e. money) flowing. People have overdosed on hydrochloride, shot their own loved ones, committed racist hate crimes, hoarded hand-sanitizer, nearly rioted over toilet paper, cleared the shelves of everything but Corona Beer and Tofu. For a week, I was doing 120 push ups a day. Fear can make you crazy. The answer to fear in these times is to relax, hope, and adapt.
5. Fear can be overcome. Yes, even after two decades. The one life lesson that this virus has opened the way for me to learn is that I could overcome a specific very personal fear that I’ve harbored for over twenty years. I talked about this in a series of tweets: