March 20, 2020

17 Days.


That’s the estimated average time span of catching the coronavirus to (potentially) dying.

Johns Hopkins researchers report that those of us who contract the coronavirus will develop symptoms between five and 12 days after their exposure. Other reports say the incubation period is 5-6 days, and it’s about 11 days from hospital admittance to death. Of course, these are just approximations. No one really knows for sure.

I am not being morbid. I am not sensationalizing. I’m not fatalistic.

This one data point, rough guesstimate as it is—in a sea of so many compelling, emerging statistics—has my full attention.

17 days.

Let me be clear, I don’t think I’m going to die.

I’m on day four of a self-imposed quarantine. Someone I met with earlier in the week emailed to say she’d been at a conference where six people have since tested positive. I guess that makes me lucky in the sense that at least I know I may have been exposed. I have every reason to believe I’ll make it out of this isolation period healthy and alive. I am upbeat and hopeful. (And yes, I’m washing my hands like crazy.)

17 days.

I see this as a sign. A signal to reset. I choose to believe this is a sacred time. My self-induced confinement is a gift. When else have I ever tuned out all the distractions and busyness of the daily grind, and fully tuned into the essential goodness and beauty of this life?

Steve Jobs once said, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll be right. Every morning I looked in the mirror and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I do today?”

17 days.

If that were all I had left on this wonderful planet, how would I choose to spend them?

Walking together outside with my handsome boy, Kermit. Enjoying fresh air and the beauty of Colorado’s majestic mountains. Giving him belly rubs. Playing tug of war. Throwing the tennis ball and watching him gleefully run away with it. Laying on the floor with my head on his flank, smelling his fur.

Calling my dad and brother—old-school, on the phone. Hearing their ups and downs. Talking politics—my dad’s favorite topic, and how recent retirement from public health feels right about now for my brother.

Slowly and deliberately cooking and enjoying my own tasty, healthy food creations. I don’t usually like cooking for myself, but now it’s a privilege.

Riding my bike like a kid on the eerily quiet suburban roads and dirt trails in the woods. Full of whimsy, zest for life, and carefree abandon. Wind in my face. Feeling into the space between the seasons.

Talking to my love, checking in with each other, digging deep into our fears, making plans as we need to—reassuring ourselves that we are not alone. Remembering we have each other’s back, no matter what happens. Taking extra time to express our love, tend to each other and to our relationship. Planting seeds, pruning, watering and fertilizing our love in a time of distress, knowing it will spring forth even stronger at some future time.

Tending to myself through exercise, nutrition, sleep, and meditation. Many of the activities I love to do are temporarily cancelled—Pilates classes, pottery making, music concerts, travel plans, friend meetups. Even video production for a website I’m working on. Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I am savoring time alone. I’ve given myself permission to feel it all. Rage. Fear. Chaos and uncertainty. Upheaval. Sadness and grief. When I quiet my mind, away from fear, distanced from the collective panic, I become fully present in the now.

17 days.

It’s entering our collective psyche.

Everyone is struggling now. All of us. Worldwide.

In these tough times it’s understandable how easy it is for people to shut down. To harden their hearts. To look out only for themselves. But now more than ever there is a call for kindness. For love. For compassion and empathy. The Italians are singing songs to each other across the streets from the confines of their homes.

We are in this together.

17 days.

For each and every one of those days, as I have on those that came before COVID-19, and on the days that will come after, I choose to be grateful.



Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon

How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.

What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.

The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.

10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.


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