Social distancing became a state on affairs we embraced last Monday. It was hypnotizing to see New York’s busy streets getting emptier and emptier day by day. I was in that group of people who were very optimistic and didn’t believe any drastic measures would be needed. But apparently the harshness of the shutdown was directly proportional to my level of hope things would be fine. Things weren’t fine.

First, the schools closed. It was a long-awaited decision that people thought necessary but the authorities dragged on making: for many children in New York schools are the only places they can eat and sometimes even wash clothes. Some schools gave out laptops to students who didn’t have them or couldn’t afford buying them, Internet providers promised free internet access to families with K-12 children. Teachers underwent training and tomorrow (Monday, March 23rd) is going to be the first day of official online classes.

Around the same time the restaurants, bars, and various eateries were forced to shut their doors due to a rapid onset of the virus. Some of them deliver and take take-out orders, some – closed all together. It’s unusual to see Chinatown’s busiest restaurants closed and streets deserted. For the culture, where a lot of life is happening around food, what’s happening is unthinkable and plain sad.

Starting tomorrow people are told to minimize their time outside and all “non-essential” businesses will be closed. It’s interesting to see how all of us will adapt to this new reality.

I, for one, think it’s a unique opportunity to finally spend more time with the one person that should matter the most to you – yourself. Things we can all do while staying home:

  • Take up a hobby you always wanted to or spend more time on the one you already have (I started drawing again);
  • Read books to minimize your screen time that’s going to skyrocket due to working from home;
  • Learn to bake/cook – now it’s one of the skills all of us have to learn;
  • Keep exercising – run, do home stretching;
  • Clean up your space – sort and throw away or donate things you don’t need and haven’t used in a while;
  • Clean up your thoughts – think about your values, what makes you happy and what makes you sad, create a plan for the next couple of months on how to become a positive thinker.
  • Reconnect with the people you might have lost contact with because we all were so busy with our outside lives.

I am excited to see how we will change once the quarantine is over. I believe we will be different, just going through this experience and knowing how things can turn on a dime will make us different. But how different..I am excited to see.

Deserted Central Park on a Friday afternoon (March 20th, 2020)