Letters from the Pandemic 12: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters from the Pandemic 12: Dear Lucy <email@example.com>
by Joanne Crozier
From: L. Anna Seneca <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: January 1, 2021 8:36 PM
To: Lucy <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Felix Annus Novus!
“Judging from what you tell me and from what I hear,” we greet the New Year from the same boat. Ten months have passed since the virus mutated from a ripple to wavelet, finally surging landward as the COVID-19 tsunami. Remember in March when I asked you to consider what will be different when we get back to normal? Now I see that the question should have been: What will be different about the new normal?
Time has lost its meaning, simultaneously accelerating and slowing down. What is the day, what is the month — it can elude me. I’ve given myself permission to slow down, lower my expectations. Driving places to spend money is now the exception, not the rule. If I ask do I really need that, the answer is usually No, because “until we have begun to go without them we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are.”
Fortunately, I am still working from home. The spare room became my office, classroom and meeting space and I rarely leave the house. My physical world has shrunk. And yet, liberty accompanies limits: I experience moments of peace “as if under the best of circumstances. And indeed, now they are the best, since my spirit, devoid of all other preoccupations, has room for its own activities.” I take the dog on long morning walks, play Zoom Scrabble with my sister in Winnipeg, read in the garden serenaded by sparrows.
You asked me what books I’m enjoying. Reading and writing are my therapy now more than ever; “I never cease to find comfort in cheerful and courageous reflections.” I revived my habit of journaling, to describe my little slice of life and whatever strikes me as noteworthy during the pandemic. Virginia Woolf wrote her memoir “A Sketch of the Past” as German bombs rained down on London. She carried on writing in the face of fear and tragedy. She gives me courage.
I noted in my journal that living in a COVID-19 world requires emotional processing, similar to the five stages of grief. People are grieving the loss of jobs, routines, gatherings, certainty. Loved ones have been hospitalized, some have passed away. Now I’ve reached the final stage, acceptance and acknowledgment of what I can and cannot control. This may be our world now but don’t give up the fight to make it a better place.
Joanne Crozier of Coquitlam is a master’s student in the GLS (Graduate of Liberal Studies) program at SFU. Born and bred in Manitoba, she joined the westward exodus to BC after graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1991 with a Bachelor of Interior Design. She is active in Vancouver’s design community, teaching design and colour theory at BCIT, working as a registered interior designer, and volunteering for the non-profit association Interior Designers Institute of BC. In 2018, Joanne joined SFU’s Graduate Liberal Studies program where her work has explored themes related to memory, material culture, and sense of place. Editor’s note: in May 2020, Joanne contributed a popular essay to The Ormsby Review, “Home is where the memory is,”available here.
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The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC
“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster
 All quotes from Seneca, Letters From A Stoic