In this column I'm simply trying to share with readers my experience of this extraordinary time.

Being in lockdown is a little like living out one of those dystopian movies. There's an unavoidable sense of dread as the daily bulletins give out the numbers of infected and - heaven forfend - the dead. The trouble is that like that movie, it's hard to simply look away or shut it off.

I suspect that I'm not alone in my experience of near overload on Covid-19. The virus and what we need to do about it takes up almost all the news and intrudes in almost every conversation to the point where I begin to wonder what did we ever think about before.

Based on the steps our government is taking and the capacity of most Kiwis to use common sense and diligence in fulfilling their responsibilities for personal safety and the safety of others in the community, I see us coming through this mostly in good shape.


We're basically following the successful playbooks of Germany, Singapore and South Korea. There, testing, tracing and tracking have kept the mortality rates low and mitigated the physical effects of the virus, albeit with varying damage to their economies. But as others have noted, the best tonic for the economy is safeguarding the health of the people.

While our personal safety is not so much at issue, here in New Zealand, my worries are over family and friends in the States.

The Trump administration continues to treat the pandemic as a PR exercise despite the advice from its own pandemic director, Dr. Deborah Birx, that at a minimum, the US will likely suffer 100,000 to 200,000 deaths. At a minimum.

Meanwhile, a medical system driven by profit requires US state governments to engage in bidding wars to get necessary life-saving equipment like ventilators. And the administration deems gun shops as essential services.

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Despite the darkness of these possibilities, there is an upside to the crisis. It's not all gloom and doom. Several of our friends have remarked on the pleasant quiet that absent daily activity has left behind.

They are using that unexpected furlough to take up projects left undone or unstarted until a projected someday.

Family members who are able to work from home tell us that they find it more productive than their office time due to fewer distractions.

Being in lockdown is a little like living out one of those dystopian movies.
Being in lockdown is a little like living out one of those dystopian movies.

In personal terms, we've experienced generous offers both from friends and from folks we know only casually to shop for us or bring over things we might need.

And then there are the stories.

Because isolation precludes physical contact, we've taken to calling and to Skype more with folks here and in other countries.

One sudden gift has been the telling of stories. Spontaneously a friend or a family member will either elicit a memory and a story from us or produce one from their lives. I love stories and I believe that people here do as well.

When I first came to work at the base hospital 24 years ago, there arose some contentious issue that demanded a full hospital staff meeting. At the height of tension, one staff member stood and said, "Wait, I have a story."

The hush that followed evaporated whatever tension was present and matters soon resolved. I don't remember the story or the contentious issue but the sense of child-like wonder that the promise of a story engendered left a lasting impression.

These stories we've been sharing are not elaborate. Often about some long ago experience that turned out to be pivotal in shaping a life. The stories talk to the child in each of us, and by the telling of them provide a sense of comfort, of solace and of safety in the promise of continuity.

In the spirit of the times, that we're all in this together, I'd like to suggest that readers who care to write, tell us of the way you're adapting now, and especially of any surprising discoveries you're making.