Letters to the Future: Notes on Journaling During the COVID-19 Crisis

photo of person holding cup
Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

For over half my life, my morning routine has included journaling. I note ten things I’m grateful for, such as health, friends, basic needs met, Oakley’s snoring–the stuff of life that makes it good. And then I write about dreams and analyze them. And then I just free write about how the day unfolds.

In addition to fit the puzzle pieces of my life into a coherent whole, I’m also aware that I have a responsibility to my descendants, to anyone who might be interested in the journals of a not-so-young woman living in these times to record events in real time.

Personal journals provide historians with a wealth of knowledge about what really happened, not just what governments and those writing history on their behalf say did. Queen Victoria’s journals gave hints about what being pushed into greatness at a crazy young age was like. Anne Frank’s diary should be mandatory reading in every school to educate further generations about being Jewish life in hiding in 1940’s Amsterdam under Hitler’s regime.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve journaled or not before now. Just get a blank book (Barnes and Nobel, Half Price Books, and any place that sells art supplies on line should have them on line. Please don’t go out unless you absolutely have to do so). Date your entry. And begin writing.

What should you write about?

  • Where were you when…your state/province/country went on stay at home orders? (Announced March 20, 2020, 3:10 PM. Order effective  starting at 5 PM March 21, 2020.)
  • What were you doing? (Getting ready to get Oakley from day care. Ran to the store to get him some more food. Hubby and I had done a haul recently.)
  • What have you been feeling? Whatever emotions you’ve had are OK.
  • How have the stay at home orders impacted your routine?  (Biggest thing is dog day care being closed until the order is lifted. Able to get grocery delivery from the mom and pop store near his day care. We’re still able to walk at the forest preserves. The state parks are closed until further notice.)
  • What have you done to cope? (Finding funny stuff on YouTube, cooking, longer walks with Oakley, making watching the daily briefings a time for ritual tea and treats.)
  • Moments of despair? (Two. One of the deaths in Illinois early on was a nine-month-old baby. I was just gutted. You could have called me a doe and hung me up by the ankles and finished the job. The other was John Prine’s death. I don’t openly weep for many performers, but he is one of them.)
  • Moments of hope? (Watching Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the public health department, doing the daily briefing.)
  • Inspiration? (The ones finding humor in the situation, such as the people on the Bin Isolation Outing page on Facebook. )
  • Has COVID-19 directly impacted you, your friends, or family? ( Two friends had it before it was a thing. Possibly three. She’s making arrangements to get tested as I type. Please send her good energy, thoughts, vibes, etc. )
  • What actions have you been taking? Have you donated to food banks, organizations  that are helping people in compromised situations? Are you ready to vote in November? Are you contacting your elected representatives about the issues the pandemic has brought to light? (Need you ask?)
  • Self care? (More yoga, added strength training, trying not to compulsively eat, meditating to guided sessions on Mindful.org.)
  • What else would you like future generations to know about this time in history?

Every generation has their crises. Hopefully, we can distill our real life experience to guide the future through theirs.