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Impact 0117: Finding what sparks joy in the little things

Nicolette Ong · 23 August 2021
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Reader’s Note:

This letter was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as part of Dear Covid-19. Though some of the events and details in this letter may have changed since then, we hope to remember those in our community who stepped up when it mattered most. Continue to keep up with them on their social pages at @nonglette

Dear COVID-19,

When the circuit breaker was announced because of you, I honestly was really worried that I wouldn’t know how to deal with it.

Prior to the lockdown, my friends would tell you that I was always someone who would pack my weekly schedule and spend the majority of my waking hours out of the house (the person who would plan meet-ups weeks in advance – be it dining out, dance classes, foot massages, etc.).

I essentially “knew no chill”. The thought of being limited mostly to the compound of my house and not being able to physically interact with others was really quite daunting.

Like most friends, my first couple of weekends were spent mostly binge-watching various Netflix shows. But it soon came to a point where I found myself fast- forwarding through most series and time still felt like it was creeping by way too slowly. I truly started to feel myself spiral into somewhat an aimless humdrum existence.

To make matters worse, it was announced shortly after that the lockdown would be extended for another few weeks. But by that point, I had already half-expected you were going to throw us another curveball and true enough, the number of community cases just kept rising and the end didn’t seem so near.

In light of this, I turned back to the only way I knew how to live my life – by keeping myself extremely occupied with various #stayhome activities.

Whilst you were infuriating to say the least, through your enforcement of a slow-motion function on life and an involuntary detachment from the outside world, I have to admit that I personally also gained a fair bit from you through the lockdown (and not just in terms of weight).

You provided the much-needed time and space to reflect, heal and rediscover some personal passions of mine, like baking and dancing.

Because of you, many studios from all around the world started streaming online dance tutorials and dancers like myself were given the chance to learn from some of the most renowned choreographers from the US, Korea and even here in Singapore, in the comfort of my very own living room.

Like many others, I too turned back to baking a fair bit during the circuit breaker and would often have my bakes delivered to friends in an attempt to spread a little love during the trying time (and also perhaps share the calories).

On one occasion, a friend’s dad who had tried some cookies I sent over liked them enough that he decided to place an order for a hundred more that same weekend to distribute to his own friends.

That was the tipping point where I realised that there was a wider initiative to explore – in the hope of giving back in some way to those in the community who were most affected by you, while spreading some joy to a broader audience through doing something I loved.

As a result of you, I found purpose through committing to a cookie bake sale via Instagram to fundraise for Community Chest’s “The Courage Fund”. The overwhelming response to the bake sale was extremely heartening and it was just amazing to see how everyone came together so willingly to try to contribute to the cause. This was probably one of the most meaningful takeaways I gained through you and the lockdown.

But your greatest gift to me, though, would have had to be the tremendous amount of quality time I spent with my loved ones at home – namely my parents and our family helper of 32 years. Being at home 24/7 with them really made me more aware and appreciative of all the big and little things they each did for me daily.

It made me realise I had taken them for granted a little more over these past few years since I started work. Without their help in folding literally hundreds of cake boxes and driving me in the torrential rain to fulfil deliveries, we honestly wouldn’t have managed to ship out over a thousand cookies over the course of Phase 1. 

Whilst the lockdown naturally resulted in our family’s own share of debates, you were a timely reminder for us all that the simple wonders in life often get easily overlooked and that they truly deserve a greater investment of our time than we often allow – so thank you for that.

Now that we’re in Phase 2, I am hopeful that you’ll leave us soon enough and am looking forward to life as it was before you. It’ll be wonderful not having to live in constant fear and paranoia of falling prey to you.

While you won’t be missed, you also won’t be forgotten – more so for the unique lessons you have left each of us with. We once got over your cousin, SARS, in 2003 and in time, I believe that Singapore and I will get over you as well.

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