Change in a Pandemic World: Who’s Complaining?

Everything has changed.


I went to the store today and the shelves were almost empty. Toilet paper, tissues and paper towel supplies were nil. They’ve placed quantity restrictions on the little items remaining, and all is carried out beneath the scrutinizing stares of security.

Did I complain?

No.

I can’t source hand sanitizer; although they’re selling an 8-pack of 100ml bottles for $60 AUD on Catch of the Day and toilet paper is going for somewhere in the hundreds.

Some catch.

Strangely enough, the thought of running out of toilet paper doesn’t faze my husband. In fact, he seems to find the idea amusing because while he grew up in Holland, his father is Indonesian.

If you are familiar with how Indonesian’s tackle the matter of anal hygiene, then you’ll know that they seldom have the need for toilet paper.

Here’s a quick overview of the process from Wikipedia:

“Anal hygiene, or anal cleansing, refers to hygienic practices that are performed on a person’s anus, usually shortly after defecation. The anus and buttocks may be washed or wiped (typically with toilet paper or wet wipes) in order to remove remnants of fecal matter.”

My husband was raised with a bottle next to the loo and practiced using a “pencuci botol gelandangan” or bottle bum washer until the age of 17. They used the tips of their fingers and a squirt of water to finish their business.

Each time he cracks another joke about how we might be forced to change our bathroom habits to more primitive (and gross) practices, my insides cringe rebelliously. It is this thought driving my quest to seek out toilet-paper on an almost daily basis.

Still not complaining.

I have a mother who likes to hunt more than me. She does me a solid and brings rolls each time she visits. She even haggles with the toilet paper street hustlers — who knew that would ever be a thing?

The good news is that I did manage to score an extremely overpriced pump bottle of hand soap today. It smells like orange and almond and the label states that it’s “Nourishing & Life-changing”.

Now, that’s ironic.

I wonder if the soap manufacturers knew something that eluded the rest of us. Albeit, I’m using the life-changing soap not to ignite change in my life, but because life has changed beyond my control.

I often speak about change and how the only control we really have is the way we choose to respond to it. Sometimes, we can stick our heads in the sand and pretend a thing never happened; we think if wait long enough the issue will just go away.

Then, there is a time when we are faced with a pandemic disease in the form of COVID-19 that no amount of sand-head-sticking can erase.

Nobody gets to escape the change taking place in the world right now, but we all have a choice on how we deal with it. It is crucial now more than ever to become aware of ourselves; our actions and reactions.

We can stop complaining about it.

It’s natural for us to become agitated from time to time and need to vent in some way. Even the calmest among us still blow a fuse every now and then. But given the drastic shift happening in our lives and communities, it’s important to keep tabs on our mindset and be aware how our energy affects others.

People are fighting over toilet paper, bribing grocery truck delivery drivers and pulling out knives in supermarkets.

Welcome to the new reality.

I grabbed a coffee at a local café a few days ago. I was inundated with people complaining about how the out-of-towners are showing up to scour “our” grocery store for necessities. Like toilet paper.

The conversation grated at me. I drove home questioning the mindset of people who are usually quite open and giving in their nature.

Why is it that when the world begins to show us our fragility that we resort to out-of-character behavior?

It’s unsettling and scary. I’m here and listening, and I’m thinking that we are being kept in the dark for the most part.

Do I complain?

No.

But my heart is hurting, my oldest son is remotely interstate, uncertainty rims and my home is far away.

Pandemics have a way of kickstarting our “survival mode”. People behave in ways that they usually wouldn’t. Don’t be one of those people. We get to choose how we react — choosing fear and panic will only breed more of those emotions.

Then what?

We’re going to encounter people who will be driven by fear, or maybe even the complete opposite — nonchalance.

Just the other day, hundreds of Sydney-siders flocked onto Bondi Beach to enjoy one of the last of the season’s warm days. It was a scorcher, and it was clear that no one was thinking about “social distancing” or taking the matter seriously.

Until the authorities showed up and sent everyone on their way.

Did they complain?

Probably.

The point is that neither fear or indifference is going to cut it right now.

If we’re going to overcome this, we need to be informed and prepared to do our part in helping to keep the virus contained as much as possible. Better times await us, but we have to wait it out to get there.

Now is a good time to practice the art of minding your own business. The noise from the outside can be deafening. Choose what you allow to infiltrate into your sacred sanctuary and focus on keeping the love alive.

These are the times when our love, patience and sense of empathy are being pushed to the edge. When what it is on the inside will reveal itself to you and to others. This pandemic is going to change you — but how it changes you is completely in your court.

And there’s no point complaining about it; unless we have to resort to practicing “pencuci botol gelandangan”.

Be safe everyone and much love,

Kim xx