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Lessons from this pandemic

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 16, 2021 4:00 pm

Was it only a week ago? No, it was more than that.

Maybe it was the day before those horrible-looking men in costume descended on the United States Capitol and panicked or upset almost all the people in the US and many people around the world.

I was watching Nightly News but then I let it run on. Afterwards they had a special that in essence talked about the world’s status today and what we can conclude from all the events that led us to this point.

The first newscaster was Al Roker, wearing his electric blue glasses. I cannot remember the title or how it began because I probably was out of the room when the program started. He sort of went around the world and talked to people about the pandemic. But there were two images that stuck in my mind.

Another man did a report from Italy where the pandemic hit hard in the beginning. This man visited Venice, the romantic city of canals, bridges and gondoliers.

He noted that he got special permission to get his favorite gondolier and take a gondola through the canals of Venice. The place was empty. Theirs was the only gondola cruising about. You could not see any people on the bridge or the piazzas. Everyone was indoors, staying home. Especially the tourists, who stayed home elsewhere. 

Venice seemed empty except for a white jellyfish cruising the waters of a canal. The man commented, “The canals are clean and peaceful and now contain sea life that had been scared away by the tourists.”

I cannot get the jellyfish out of my mind. There it went, peacefully swimming along an empty canal in an empty albeit beautiful romantic place. That image got me thinking. What is the lesson the pandemic is teaching us?

It’s telling us to stay home. Indoors. Work at things that need to be done inside our homes. No more going to malls and walking around. No more going to the movies. Watch Netflix from bed. No more traveling to far places. No more sightseeing except what you can watch on TV. Live your lives quietly. Just go to buy your food and medicines or send someone to do it. Or call them and they will deliver to you.

I have always thought that the pandemic was sent to us by God, to teach us a serious lesson because the world had become too busy with silly things.

I have always thought that the pandemic was sent to us by God, to teach us a serious lesson because the world had become too busy with silly things. I would go to the big malls and wonder how they would end because I had a feeling they would. What would they do with those massive structures when the market changed and stopped shopping?

But I never imagined a pandemic would teach us this lesson and teach it very well. Now we can shop from home. We can retool our life, make it simple, the way it was once. Maybe the pandemic will stay long enough to teach all of us that.

Another portion of the show talked about climate change. The glaciers are indeed melting. Weather is warming. Did you notice that it has been hot? We had no cold spell. When the glaciers fully melt, sea levels will get approximately 10 feet higher, they said. I can see condominiums by the sea will be sinking into deep water.

Then they showed a tall condominium building in Singapore whose porches were overflowing with greenery. What a wonderful idea! We live in a condominium with small porches. Sometime last year sent out memos saying they would confiscate empty flower pots and fabric from those porches. I got offended. One of the things I had done when I moved in was pretty up the little porch. I planted flowering plants and what they call the “insulin” plant. I put a small table and two chairs. Did they not want me to do that?

I went to the Administration Office and asked exactly what they meant. They assured me they did not mean what I had done. They were talking about those who used their porches as dumping grounds for empty pots and most of all they were discouraging people from hanging their washing and their mops on their porches. 

When I saw the Singapore condo, I thought it would be a good idea to have such an activity at our condominium. Planting trees, vines, flowering plants on our porches can benefit the climate in the area. It makes the place cooler. We can plant bougainvilleas of every color. They require very little watering. The less you water, the more beautiful blooms show up. Also improves the aesthetics of the building. Certainly beats hanging your clothes out on your tiny porch to dry.

Those are the two lessons I have learned, trying to gain mastery of the new TV controls just installed. I’m learning many useful lessons.