2020 – Things ain’t what they used to be

I enjoyed driving and listening to Ehrling* as the RAV4 flew through the light freeway traffic before the sun rose that early January morning of a new year and a new decade on my way to the hospital where I volunteer in Surgery Waiting and looked forward to what new adventure* awaited me that day.  The sky was just beginning to lighten as I drove up to the top of the seven-level parking garage just in time to take a photo of the sunrise.

Just before going in, I went back to the car, brushed up on my Spanish, and listened to the morning news, which contained reports of a new coronavirus breaking out in Wuhan, China’s decision to build a new hospital in 10 days,* and reports about an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, Li Wenliang,* who treated a woman for glaucoma on January 10, contracted this virus, and died on February 6.  Each day these reports grew worse as the virus spread.

On January 25, California announced its first case of this new coronavirus, a man who recently traveled to Wuhan. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave this virus the name COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). On February 14, Valentine’s Day, two people in San Diego County tested positive for COVID-19 and the county declared a virus emergency (Timeline: California reacts to coronavirus).

Meanwhile, we were looking forward to seeing our friend Vallery (Larry’s college classmate), who was coming down from San Francisco to attend a book convention in March. But the day after she arrived, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, our governor restricted gatherings to not exceed 250 people (which became 50 people six days later), and the book convention was cancelled. However, it was a beautiful sunny day in San Diego, so we took her to see the Japanese Friendship Garden* in Balboa Park, which was featuring blossoming cherry trees.*

This was the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature, while managing anxiety and stress related to COVID-19 restrictions and the news.*  It was therapeutic for me because I had just learned that the hospital mandated that those of us volunteers over age 65 take a temporary leave of absence for our own protection, and yet I was depressed in that I had to suspend an activity that I had enjoyed and that utilized my nursing skills in helping others and myself to thrive.

So we all enjoyed the peace, serenity and beauty of this lovely garden.

New for us was the addition of the 1735 bronze statue of Kannon Bosatsu, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion in the Buddhist-themed Garden of Enlightenment.  More information on Kannon Bosatsu* is extensively detailed in the Kannon Notebook.

Per Wikipedia, Buddha is also named Siddhartha Gautama and was a philosopher, merchant, mediator and is revered as the founder of Buddhism.  I was first exposed to the theme of spiritual journey through self-discovery in attaining enlightenment by reading the novel, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse.*

Mercy and compassion are also reverberating themes in the latest COVID-19 news as many California hospitals are now reporting that they are at or over 100% of their usual patient capacity,* while health care workers increasingly suffer from stress and exhaustion.* The good news is that COVID-19 vaccinations have begun* and I can’t wait to get mine because things ain’t what they used to be* and I want to get back to enjoying that early morning drive to my volunteer work at the hospital* and hearing good news for a change!

Nati Pastorutti – La Canción de la Alegría*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

About Bill D.

Bill is a retired RN who has enjoyed working as a docent in a well-known historic house museum, and now is a proud volunteer in San Diego's newest state-of-the-art hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. He enjoys reading, writing, and meditating, especially about mindfulness as discussed by Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. (Photo credit: Jokie Tolentino)
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