Just a thought… The care, therefore, of every man’s soul belongs to himself. [John Locke]
I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to listen to the Psychiatrist-in-Chief/Chief of Staff of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group this week. I only WISH it was for me; the chat was part of next month’s Mental Health episode of the Canadian Real Estate Association podcast I host called Real Time and this one, pardon the pun, really hits home.
Now with Easter and Passover almost upon us, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, this should be a time of reflection, of stopping to recognize sacrifice, and of hope.
In a religious sense it may well be, but for me, and maybe for you, too, that hope is elusive. That so desperately sought-after feeling of a fairy godmother waving her wand and saying, “All right everyone – awaken from your two-year sleep and throw off your masks, it’s all going to be okay. The dragon is gone, the plague has passed and we’ll all live happily ever after…” is just wishful thinking.
On Tuesday, Canada’s Dr. Tam said to put the masks back on. Yeah, good luck with that; there might be a truck tantrum, replete with defiled flags flying for “freedom.”
In reality – mine at least – the masks should never have come off in public and, yes, it’s exhausting. Being well-informed can feed the feeling of anxiety that many of us have had for weeks: for example, it’s a fact that the Omicron variant BA.2 is here in Canada (with 3, 4 and 5 showing up in South Africa now). Then there’s XE, which combines the “greatest hits” of the original Omicron (BA.1) and its variant BA.2. All we can do is watch with interest and foreboding the effects of the variants on other countries and pay attention to the science of when they’re expected here.
Of course, rather than hear from actual government health experts (with the exception this week of Dr. Tam) we now rely on foreign statistics, hospital numbers here, anecdotal evidence and waste water analysis: actual buckets of poo that are giving us more information than our governments.
But it’s not all Chicken Little and the sky falling. Any of the people we know of who have contracted the virus recently – those who are, of course, triple-vaxxed or even double-boosted – have said that they felt cold-like symptoms, if any at all. Which, when you set aside the concerns of long Covid, sounds like the best case scenario. Except that with those milder symptoms we could inadvertently be spreading it to people who are vulnerable: the very young, the very old, the immune- and health-compromised. I’m terrified of that responsibility.
As so many of us gather this Easter and Passover with gratitude and hope in our hearts in this season of renewal, forgiveness and new life, I’ll share the advice of the Chief Psychiatrist I mentioned off the top: be charitable in your heart and compassionate to those who won’t get a vaccine, won’t wear a mask. Love your neighbour, and love yourself.
And eat chocolate. (He didn’t say that, but I’m pretty sure it’s usually good advice.) Just not the Kinder stuff that’s been recalled. A ton of it – even Advent calendars. Here’s a link.
Yeah, we got caught on it. Even I ignore expiry dates, but not recalls. Death by Chocolate should be an ice cream flavour, not a coroner’s finding. Have a good weekend and I’ll be back with you next week.