Name: Wendy Alexander
Location: Castries, Saint Lucia
Confession is good for the soul, so I’ll admit that when I first heard about a virus spreading like wildfire in Wuhan, China my initial thought was, “another one?” I hurriedly whispered a prayer for healing and guidance and continued with my day. Fast forward to today and it’s no longer a distant reality, my beautiful island home has nine confirmed cases. In the words of the old Saint Lucian proverb, si bab kamawadou pwi difé, wouzé sa ou (if your friend’s beard is on fire, wet your own). We’re a global community, and never has it been proven to be truer than with the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most homo sapiens inhabiting planet Earth at the moment, I have experienced quite a few emotions – anxiety, confusion, surprise, fear, disgust, anger – what I didn’t expect was the cold chill of regret that hit me in the stomach and snaked its way into my bones.
What if? A seemingly simple question, with so many far-reaching implications. For one dark moment, I asked the question, what if I take my last breath in the next five minutes? Everyone knows that dwelling on regret is like choosing to fall headfirst down the rabbit hole right alongside Alice, so I’ll spare you the endless tales of opportunities not grasped with both hands and held on to with a tenacity that left my fingers bloodied. However, would you please indulge me for a minute as I share just one of the many regrets swirling through the vortex of my mind’s never-ending thoughts right now? Travel.
As a child, I often dreamed of visiting the many places that I read about, from the Aurora Borealis in Alaska to an expedition to find the Magic Faraway Tree and have a nice long chat with Mr. Moonface. With each new case and every border crossed, my list was being decimated. In my mind’s eye, I watched destinations burn one by one to the black of coal dust and when Saint Lucia’s borders were closed the whole globe was bound in rusted chains with a solid lock. The Great Wall of China, Australian Outback, Pyramids of Egypt, Grand Canyon, Morne Diablotin, Pico Duarte, Thailand, Austria, Tuscany, Besançon, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Greenland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Grenada, Cuba, Jamaica, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
For a brief moment, I was warmed by a glimmer of hope, when I stumbled upon a link that promised virtual tours of some of the world’s most spectacular national parks. The nature enthusiast in me had already laced up her hiking boots, gone through a list of supplies (water, headlamp, knife, hammock, cereal bars, first aid kit, fire kit, extra socks, etcetera) and strapped on her backpack by the time I clicked the left mouse button and was informed that the service was not available in my country. Guess I should have checked my passport for the requisite visa before packing the supplies.
Time has always been important to me; I dare say it’s my love language and the gift that I most appreciate from my friends and loved ones. That said, how had I failed to respect this valuable gift, understand fully just how fleeting it really is? Three hundred and thirty-three thousand, one hundred and eight hours. What had I done with all that time? Where had it gone? Why didn’t I travel more, embrace every opportunity granted wholeheartedly instead of making excuses? It was at this point in my struggle down the never-ending rabbit hole, that an exit made itself known to me.
I was gently reminded of why one should not dwell on regrets. The author who penned that quote is unknown to me, but it has redefined how I spend my time during this period of quarantines, curfews, social distancing and self-isolation. It has become a time for personal growth and development. A time for introspection and the embracing of the wonders of social media, so that I can embrace those who are dear to me. Time to stop dreaming and start planning for the reality that those dreams were meant to inspire. In short, it’s high time that I start living.
Please share your #QuarantinedCaribbean stories with us. Have you lost your job? Are you now doing your job in different ways? Has it changed your social dynamics? How? Have you spent more time with family? How do you feel about all of this? Do you plan on gardening more after this? Are you playing more board games?