Silver Linings Playbook: Covid-19 Edition, Part 2

[4-minute read] The ice is gone, and so are the crowds. Rideau Canal, Ottawa.

In part 2 of the Playbook, friends of, we walk the sunniest available sides of the streets of Ottawa. The number one bit of brightness is that WE’RE NOT NEW YORK. By good luck, and perhaps by a certain level of good Canadian management and prudence, we’re still only in the hundreds of cases in my city, with fewer than 10 deaths. But still, Covid-19 looms darkly over Ottawa, over everywhere that people have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Science saith unto all the congregations…¹

But there are silver linings ANYWAY. As I concluded in Part 1 of this series, they all seem to have something to do with some combination of Time, Opportunity and the Transformation of our personal and societal circumstances. What do they look like in your neighbourhood, town or city?

Here’s what my neighbour Big Sam had to say: “In a pandemic, country people still have the advantages of rural living — fresh air, woods and fields to walk in, and it’s easy to avoid people. And the disadvantages are mainly gone, because now nobody has anywhere to go or much to do. Here in town, it’s the opposite: we have all the disadvantages (nature deficits, people all over the place), and none of the city advantages like, y’know, entertainment, large gatherings and art and culture and…Big Sam has chronic tongue-in-cheek syndrome, but there’s some wry truth there. But what I’m talking about is making the best of this shutdown situation, even when densification kinda sucks! Here’s what’s silver on a cloudy Ottawa afternoon:

  • LOCAL HEROES are getting celebrated on-line. Our local chief medical officer – Dr. Vera Etches – is reputed locally to have “a will of steel” and is widely admired, as are all the health workers. (Nationally and provincially, most of Canada’s chief health officers are women, as they are municipally in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.) Suddenly the love that usually goes to highly paid hockey stars from everywhere except Ottawa is being re-directed to truck drivers, shelf stockers, grocery baggers and other jobs that are low-wage but more essential than chasing pucks. Perspectives change.
  • SINGING FROM BALCONIES? Surely there must be parts of Ottawa, more dense than my neighbourhood, where people sing and perform with each other at a distance, à l’Italienne? (Hmm, okay, maybe not. This is Ottawa.)
  • BUT THERE’S BEAUTY ALL OVER THE PLACE. Kid-painted rainbows, strategically placed teddy bears, and all kinds of encouragement are to be found in street-facing windows. “You got this!” and “Tous dans le même bâteau” and “Wash! Wash! Wash!” and these two splendidly childish jokes to follow:

Comment (1)

  1. Michael Freeman

    We look for silver linings once the event is over, not while the event is still going on. Being embroiled in the circumstances of the event does not allow us to look for silver linings, until after the stresses of the events are over. The pandemic is not over and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be over for a very long time. If that is true, then we won’t be able to look for silver linings for an awful long time either. Maybe we should be looking for milestones or glimmers of hope, but I think this is what the writer refers to as silver linings.

    It is very hard to believe that with all of the coverage in the news, with all of the social media, with all of the changes, that there are still people out there that have no idea that they are supposed to be staying in their homes. People can still be seen roaming the streets where other people are gathering, and generally ignoring the social-distancing, self-isolation instructions of the chief medical officers. Thank goodness for the grocery clerks, truck drivers, medical professionals of any kind, workers within seniors residences, and all the others that were deemed essential very early on in this time of unusual conditions. These people are not problems. They need to be out and about. And I’m sure it’s hard for them to find ways to keep their distance. But there are so many others out there that just don’t seem to be getting it. I guess that the positive to take away from this is that there are a lot more people that are getting it than aren’t.

    I was always told that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Many people have known conditions where their only outward response was laughter, but inwardly they were torn apart and wanted to cry. This pandemic has many many people experiencing that right now. Looking for humour in the face of adversity has been a very strong coping mechanism for many people. I turn to the jokes that I can find on social media. I look to the funny stories that I can find. And I look for the humour wherever I can find it!

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