• During a chaotic time appreciating the blessings in my life made me see the silver linings even in times of adversity. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
I started to see beyond my own problems. Suddenly the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ began to make more sense.
By
Zena Chamas

4 May 2020 - 10:19 AM  UPDATED 4 May 2020 - 3:32 PM

About a week into coronavirus lockdown, when measures in Victoria were a lot looser, I came home exhausted from work to find a note under my door inviting me to share some homemade muffins baked by the mum-of-two living in apartment number 3. 

On the note there was a list of ingredients (in case of food allergies) and a smiley face next to the words, “We’re all in this together”.

At first, I cringed when I read it because I’d already heard that phrase so many times that week. I hadn’t realised the seriousness of the pandemic, other than how it selfishly impacted my plans.

But, much to my surprise, that very same day birthed the beginning of a new perspective for me. During that week I had been under a lot of stress from not finding much to buy at the store due to panic buying and my husband had lost his job because of business closures. I was already feeling flat and the last thing I felt like doing was seeing other people.

The note asked all interested neighbours to meet at the front courtyard at 1pm the next day. After brushing it off for hours, I decided to make an appearance. I ended up meeting most of my neighbours who were all very welcoming and I instantly started to feel much better.

I ended up meeting most of my neighbours who were all very welcoming and I instantly started to feel much better.

It dawned on me very quickly after the meeting that we had our own small community in the complex – we were all living in the same space and impacted by the pandemic individually. I started to see beyond my own problems. Suddenly the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ began to make more sense.

I’d love to say that was all it took for a complete perspective change, however it took a few more consequences to see things glass-half-full.

A few days later I began to miss what life was like before the lockdown. Every day, I’d leave for work at the same time and on my way out and awkwardly pass my neighbours, exchange half smiles and go about my day. I had made very little effort to know them, and I liked it that way.

Now, almost one month later, I not only know their names but also their dogs' names.

And I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve also gotten to know an elderly lady in the complex who rarely talked to anybody.

Getting to know them meant also helping them out from time to time.

Getting to know them meant also helping them out from time to time. After meeting that day we had unknowingly begun a network, taking turns to check up on those more vulnerable while maintaining social distancing rules.

I also began thinking about my health in new ways after my gym had closed. I’d always had an on-again-off-again relationship with my health and if I’m honest, the only time I ever went to the gym was to ease guilt-eating after the holidays. Yet, I made sure to always renew my membership anyway.

I can now see how much money I wasted.

Ironically, I had an even stronger desire to exercise now that it wasn’t an easy option and I tried to find alternative ways to shed some excess kilos. It began with a walk around the block, and quickly turned into 30-minute runs, daily.

It was on one of my daily runs, that I began to notice how many other people were also outside, riding bikes, taking walks with their family and appreciating the sunshine. I started noticing other things too; the jasmine flowers hanging by the mailbox and the house shaped like a castle at the end of my street. I’d overlooked the smaller things before, and most often never even thought about them.

It seemed others around me had been making the most of the lockdown too. One of the houses on the walking trail near my house had a teddy bear in the back window intended for passers-by to look at. It wasn’t there before the lockdown, but had been placed perfectly in the window for others to see.

I began to realise that spreading a little positivity during this time was going to help us all get through. Taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers was actually helping me sort out my thoughts.

I began to realise that spreading a little positivity during this time was going to help us all get through. Taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers was actually helping me sort out my thoughts.

During a chaotic time appreciating the blessings in my life made me see the silver linings even in times of adversity. Whether it was calling my parents to more, checking in on friends I hadn’t spoke to in months, or taking my health and fitness more seriously, it’s the little changes during this time that gave me a new perspective.

We’ve all had to find new ways of doing things and living our every day life. In a time were many are suffering, and many parts of the world are in pain, many like myself, are finding the importance of togetherness and appreciating the blessings in life.

Zena Chamas is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @chamas_zena

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.