My 1˚ year inside a pandemic. What did it leave positive or negative in our deep soul?

By Massimo Usai

My “pandemic” year began on the evening of Wednesday, March 05 2020, when I was forced to cancel the air tickets I had purchased a week earlier.

The ticket was for an early spring weekend to pass between Rome and Naples.

For the first half of that week, I had tried to metabolize and analyze the increasingly disturbing news related to covid-19 coming from Italy.

A few days before I was in London and looking around was everything good.

Especially at Heathrow airport on February 26, I try to understand if my worry was the consequence of a media exaggeration from Italy or that news should have to be taken with due attention,

I pay a lot of attention to the people’s behaviour next to me, and I notice the large majority was relaxed and calm.

I should have followed my first rules: “never believe the majority”, but probably at the time, I want to be just “wrong” of my convictions.

From those five days in England, I had returned, convinced that it was an overreaction that I read in the “peninsula”‘s media.

I wasn’t going to Italy that day anyway, at the airport in Heathrow.

Still, I was boarding for Warsaw, where both by plane and at the airport, everything seemed absolutely quiet.

On arrival in Warsaw, I went to an area of the city that was teeming with restaurants and bars, and it was a feat to find a free table.

No one talked about Covid, no one had masks, and no one imagined even remotely that this would be one of the last “normal” days of our life until now.

I didn’t even imagine that from that day, at least until today, I would never return to Italy or England.

I am not ashamed to have argued online, with friends and family over the phone,” that everyone was over-reacting .”

At the end of the day, I had just returned from London.

The media there joked that cases of Covid were reported in Italy like was usually happened something wrong there and not in the UK.

UK’s “Media”, with the complicity of the Clown in charge, used arrogant tones and arguments full of clichés.

A few months later, a kind of Divine revenge, England, laughing off the rest of the continent, was the nation that would suffer the most severe damage of this Virus in Europe.

I was also convinced that they were right, that they were right to laugh at Italy and the rest of Europe as they often do.

What was there to worry about? Everything seemed perfect and normal in London as always, and maybe it was true, I thought: “it was the usual Italian melodramatic”.

But just a week after the FA suspended its football season, the Premier League stopped without knowing when and how it would recover. “Oh, I think, it must be severe! “, I start to realise.

At that moment, between cancelling my plane ticket to Rome and suspending the Premier League, my pandemic year began.

In the weeks that followed, friends and relatives told stories similar to mine when everyday life stopped for them.

At that point, I began to wonder about the stories that one day we would tell about the pandemic we were experiencing.

I was thinking about the movies and the books that would come out after everything was over, which would invade us.

My story would begin with the cancellation of the airline tickets to Rome and the Man City – Arsenal match, where our manager tested positive for coronavirus just a few hours before the game.

A virus that he caught shaking hands with the President of Olympiacos Pireo a few days earlier, a game in which I was also present, in the stand.

But, in a broader context, what would we remember as a nation?
As a continent?
As a planet?

Pandemic year
Modern Art during the Pandemic Year in Brussels

The pandemic was not a single, traumatic “flashbulb” event such as the tsunami in Indonesia, the fiery disintegration of the space shuttle Challenger, or September 11 in New York.

Instead, it’s a period of life where everyone’s memories will be incorporated into the same story. It will be more like the Great Depression or World War II, or the years when we were in school forced to read books that we wanted to see set on fire.

So from March 2020, hundreds of millions of people have begun to express their impressions of it and build their own diaries.

One exercise to remember details that memory can not contain for as many as they are.

I’ve written a lot on this blog about it, and maybe one day, I’ll have all the posts in a unique story, a collection, a book, a personal diary.

As psychologists and anthropologists will tell you, we tend to layout our anecdotes almost as stories or scripts to give meaning to our lives.

In fact, our plots can reveal how we handle setbacks.

There is no doubt that we are already shaping our future pandemic narratives: the stories we will tell as individuals, as communities, societies, and N actions and peoples in this era.

The process of creating these stories will help determine our resilience and well-being.

We tell our stories that can transform how we move forward and change ourselves as individuals from the difficult moments we face.

There is unconsciously in our heads a stimulus that makes us think and believe that it is all over. It is this bit of hope that could be dangerous as early as tomorrow.

Suppose the need for a lockdown were to recur. In that case, if it were to explode and be uncontrollable, our psychological reaction could be traumatic and difficult for many to recover.

And that why I personally still think we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, which is not over at all, but we’re just trying to control it.

Consequently, my pandemic story has not yet found its end point, a conclusion in my personal life experience, and I am certainly not even in yours.

I have written today these words to self-remember to myself where we are living and perhaps to remind you too, who are certain many are forgetting the reality, that the end is not so close yet.

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