Even after baking fresh bread. After making a big batch of mushroom soup and a beef stew. Even after packing up my paints and brushes, my papers and ephemera, I decided not to go.
I was going off to a week-long artist’s retreat in the foothills of the Rockies today.
Yesterday, I called and said I wasn’t coming.
My beloved has a cold. He also has a chronic medical condition. He’s in the high-risk group.
But that’s not really why I cancelled.
I cancelled because I did not want to worry. I did not want to fear inadvertently bringing disease into our home.
I cancelled because I love him.
I made the decision after I saw that Alberta’s number of cases had doubled yesterday. Yes, they are all travel-related but, one of the others at the retreat will be going back and forth to the airport a couple of times for work while I’m there. I do not want to lay the burden of my worry on my friend. And, if you look at the statistics from around the world, this virus exponentially increases on a daily basis. Travel is its gateway. Airports one of its conduits.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I love being at this retreat centre. Savour time spent in the foothills, surrounded by nature’s wild beauty. And I particularly like creating with these friends.
But I couldn’t do it.
To dive deep into my creative essence I need to let go of ‘worldly’ concerns, of worry, of anything but creative expression.
I couldn’t do that when no matter how deep I breathe into the moment, I know my beloved is sick and I am not doing everything I can to protect his health.
So, I decided to practice ‘social distancing’. I hadn’t heard the term before my eldest daughter sent me a link to an article in The Atlantic, Coronavirus: Cancel Everything. In it, the case for social distancing is clearly laid out. In the data, it’s also hard to argue with the fact that to stem Covid 19’s spread, we must change our behaviours.
Yesterday, I scrolled through many articles on Covid 19 and how to prepare for its inevitable presence in the community.
I was looking for reasons why it was okay for me to go.
There were many.
None of them out-weighed my responsibility to the one I love. My responsibility to do the right thing in these difficult and challenging times to create better for everyone. A week ago, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I would have gone.
In just one week, the sinister reality of Covid 19’s presence has darkened the globe and the lives of 14 people here in Alberta, 7 of whom were reported on yesterday. It’s impact cannot be ignored.
This isn’t because the media have created fear and paranoia. They are simply reporting the facts — Covid 19 is killing people and there are things we can do to mitigate against its impact. Media are also not the ones telling people to hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Human nature’s doing that.
I’m doing what I can.
Sure, it’s possible that my response is over the top for the situation right now. It’s possible it is predicated upon the recent passing of my mother and death’s heavy cloak of sorrow clouding my vision.
That is all possible, but none of it outweighs the reality of Covid 19’s lethal capacity to take life.
If I can do anything to stop it from hurting the ones I love, I must.
It doesn’t mean I won’t be creating. I have a beautiful studio at home. It’s french doors open out to the trees lining the river which I can watch flow from where I sit at my work table. It has a fireplace and all the supplies I need to create. It also offers peace of mind. And when it comes to creating, peace of mind is the foundation of my expression.
So, for the next few days I shall be ‘pretending’ to be on an artist’s retreat. I’ll go for long walks (Beaumont will be very grateful as he is not allowed at the retreat centre). I’ll make lemon tea with honey. Share my fresh bread and mushroom soup and other meals with my beloved.
It will be a different experience than I had anticipated and I’m good with that. Different doesn’t make it ‘not as good as’. Different means it will include the one I love and share my life with. It means having the peace of mind of knowing I am expressing my love for him the best way I know how. By taking care.
I am grateful.