Last Wednesday, the coronavirus news reached a fever pitch. The more I read, the more I wanted to read, and just like when you’re self-diagnosing with the overenthusiastic assistance of WebMD, I became increasingly certain that I had a terrible and highly contagious case of the virus (never mind that I had no fever, shortness of breath, or cough). Tired of pacing claustrophobically around my apartment, I messaged a friend. “Okay, I am issuing a personal executive order. I am not allowed to read anything on the coronavirus unless strictly necessary for work. You’re in charge of telling me if the world needs me to know something.”
Since then, things have gotten increasingly intense, and daily public conversation is mostly concerned with toilet paper shortages or school closures. But I haven’t been reading the news—my friend’s reading it for me. Letting the news go has freed me of a kind of dismal lens through which I didn’t realize I was viewing the world. Then, just a few days ago, I went to the home of a family I know, and while we swapped a few stories and theories about the news, the highlight of the evening was a rousing conversation about the poetry of Wallace Stevens. When I walked out the door, I had a mind buzzing with ideas, and a fresh appreciation for the newfound warmth of the evening air and the beauty of the quiet neighborhood. For a few minutes, I had had a chance to think about something else besides the COVID-19 pandemic.
Always, but especially in times like these, it takes the presence of friends to give us perspective. This is a time of real challenges for many of us, and my heart goes out to all those working in healthcare and service industries, caring for younger or older loved ones, or facing financial troubles because of current events. But the challenge that all of us face is fear. And fear is always easier to face with friends—even if those friends have to stay safely on the other side of a computer screen. Friends can remind us that while a lot of daily life as we know it is changing for now, much of our everyday lives can go on. There are still great books to read, that there’s still good work to be done, and even if we can’t give each other hugs we can still watch movies on shared screens and laugh ourselves silly over shared jokes. My friends constantly give me perspective: the world is bigger than just one virus.
At Verily, we want to be that voice of a friend in this challenging time. That’s why this week, we’re launching a daily newsletter, Keeping Calm During COVID-19. Our goal is to filter the news for you so that you can have the updates you need for your personal response and preparedness. We’ll also provide a little levity, through the best memes, tweets, or other responses we’re seeing. And, lastly, we’ll be diving into our archived content to share pieces that might be helpful to you as you navigate the changes that we’re all facing in this time, from effective tips for remote work to ways to mitigate cabin fever.
You can sign up for this daily email here—we’ll be continuing it for an indefinite period of time.
Meanwhile, we’ll still be rolling out our regular site content this week, including a Consider This series on becoming an adult as a single woman and as a married woman, a piece on being intentional with the functions of certain rooms in our homes, and the occasional piece about current events to keep you informed and also striving for thoughtfulness and meaning in these trying times. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you’re thinking about or how we can serve you better with our content. Even in the face of a pandemic, we all need perspective—and, hopefully, we can find our way to peace.