I'm not typically one to shy away from opinions in these columns. It's kind of what I do here. I enjoy being a contrarian from time to time and having the occasional hot take.
This one isn't hot. As a matter of fact, it's probably the smallest limb I've been out on in months.
As is almost everything in the world right now, this opinion has to do with COVID-19. The opinion is that COVID-19 is beginning to have impacts on our health, not in the terms of a standard illness, but mentally.
Jesus, this situation is exhausting. I don't know if you're like me and you've been glued to the news, the television, newspapers, websites or social media during this, trying to find out every last detail you can about what's going on and how it might impact you or your friends, your town, people you know, places you've been, everything, but this is hard to deal with.
Add to that the terror that recently took place in Nova Scotia and it’s easy to feel hopeless.
The more that you wind up looking at the coverage, the harder it is to get away, the harder it is to realize that there is in fact still a world out there, even if we can't go to it.
I'm not much of a philosophy guy. I believe it was Frederick Nietzsche who said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
I never really knew what that meant. I just thought it was one of those quotes that people put on Facebook when they want to look smart. I also know Nietzsche is one of those people you probably shouldn’t quote regularly - his back catalog has some very… divisive material.
I think I get it now. For almost two months now - without a single day of not either writing, editing, shooting photos or updating our website, by the way - we’ve been forced to pay attention to the darkest thing we can think of.
I think when we’re talking about dark subjects, including two million people getting sick, the deaths of more than 200,000 people worldwide, hundreds and hundreds of people in Canada and a potentially deadly, highly contagious disease being found in our town as we have had, apparently it grinds on you. Who would have ever guessed that?
The negativity and the fear, the panic, it becomes too much. It makes you ache. It hurts your head. It poisons your soul, interrupts your ability to sleep, your ability to communicate with other people, not being able to talk with your friends face to face or see them or touch them or do the things that you would normally do with them.
This disease robs us of our humanity. No matter how bad things are in your life, you can usually find escape with those you love, your friends, your family. When you can't see them, can't speak with them face to face, that doesn’t go away, but it feels different. Your support system has to change.
I'm right here with you.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a vacation right now.
I don't know when this is going to end. You probably don't, either. I know Saskatchewan has a plan to get back to work. We shall see if that is successful. Fingers crossed that no other outbreaks like those that have already taken place at Christopher Lake and La Loche will take place, that the north stays safe, that the world stays safe.
I don't know what the future holds there once more.
What I do know is the way that we get through COVID-19 is by sticking together.
Rely on your friends, even if you can't see them.
Rely on your family, even if you cannot hold them and hug them.
Rely on those around you and make sure they know that they can rely on you too.
In the meantime, we’re going to keep you updated on COVID-19 as best as we can, but we’re going to let you know more about the people this disease is impacting - not just the bad, but the stories of triumph, of people celebrating in the face of the disease, of people helping out health workers and first responders. There is more to the world than just doom and gloom and if we hear about it, we’ll share it with you.
COVID-19 has affected the way we live, but we cannot allow it to destroy the way we live. Not completely. We don't know what normal is going to look like after this. We don't know if the things that we've learned during quarantine or self isolation will change us. In the case of our much vaunted essential workers continuing to work, we don’t know what impact that will have on them mentally, physically, socially or otherwise long-term.
We don’t know what this is going to look like long term, but we will still value the friendships, the intimacy, the partnership with other human beings that we’re being kept from right now.
That's how we're going to get through this.
It is not bad to want to turn the world off. I get it. If you think you have to, do it for a bit. Don’t be afraid to turn the TV or your phone off, to avoid the darkness, at least for a little while. We must always remain vigilant, but that doesn’t mean we must always be miserable.
For what it's worth, if you've got my back, I got yours.