what/who are you thankful for?

I have just finished checking my favorite columnist’s piece that’s coming out tomorrow and it reduced me to tears. Hours ago, I was laughing as I attended ARASHI’s first online class for WAKU WAKU. It’s been a see-saw of emotions and I suppose I am not alone as we live through these pandemic days that, hopefully, we will look back on months or years from now with wisdom and gratitude.

What or who are you most thankful for? This is the assignment of Ninomiya sensei from the first class, to record a video thanking people you’re grateful for at this time.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the confines of my flat, in between work, and trying to entertain myself. We do what we can to cope sotospeak. It helps that technology has allowed us to communicate with one another despite the required physical distancing and the lockdown that has kept us isolated from the rest of the world.

It goes without saying that gratitude goes to the medical frontliners, for staking their own lives to serve those who are sick. Then there are the other frontliners too–the supermarket/convenience store staff, the delivery crew, janitors, guards… This pandemic has highlighted how we treat our essential workers so poorly, those whose existence ensures that our lives remain convenient and comfortable despite the inconvenience that this coronavirus has brought to the entire world.

On a more personal level, I am grateful for the work–this includes my colleagues and my employer. It’s disheartening to read of the pandemic’s economic impact, including businesses closing and people losing their jobs. When I open my eyes in the morning, the first thing that usually comes to mind is–it’s a new day that we have to try to live through again. It is not with weariness that I think that thought, but with gratitude and determination to do what I have to do, even if at times it means going through a really frustrating bad copy or dealing with third world internet.

Despite the challenges of broadband in this benighted country, I am still grateful for technology because it has allowed me to WFH, and certainly, it had made entertainment accessible. We should not underestimate the capacity of people to adjust and adapt to the times; perhaps if this pandemic happened decades ago, there would be other forms of communication and entertainment to help us along. Of course at this point we can no longer imagine life without the internet, because how to enjoy our films, dramas, concerts and music? How to attend ARASHI sensei’s online classes?  (Though I believe that ARASHI on radio will just be as entertaining if that was the only option available.)

I’m grateful for family who entertain me with pictures of what they’re having for lunch and of our bored dogs. I’m grateful for friends too, who are just a chat away; we are one another’s sounding boards of our frustrations and captured audience of stories, some funnier than others. I’m grateful that despite the situation, I’m still able to laugh, and even cry, because it tells me that I haven’t been numbed by confinement.

To a certain extent, I now understand what it’s like to be in solitary confinement. It really does prompt you to evaluate your life and think of things–many, many things. And to be thankful for them, including the most trivial ones. Like how I’m even grateful for the balcony because it provides me a breathing space if staying indoors becomes too suffocating. I’m grateful too for this time especially when we always talk about taking a break from the daily grind. WFH is not exactly a break and could even be more stressful, and we can’t even go anywhere, but time that has slowed us down and pulled us back to basics is perhaps what we all needed more than we cared to admit.

I’m looking forward to the time when this will all be over and we can look back, hopefully wiser, kinder, more mindful of the world around us–more grateful too. For sure, I’ll have memories of humid afternoons like today crying over a columnist’s beautiful, but heartbreaking, words about life–and death; of the OST of 2gether: The Series as background music that has made me homesick for Bangkok, and Bright singing Kan Goon for the nth time; of experiments in the kitchen; of ARASHI reading to us classic children’s stories and telling us to wash our hands and stay home; and of plans that have taken shape during quarantine–going home to meet my nephew for the first time; catching up with friends; flying to Bangkok as soon as it is safe to travel, and to Tokyo so I could bid my favorite group goodbye before their well-deserved hiatus. Thinking about these, I feel better, and hopeful, already.

It will be all right.

As a favorite line from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel goes: “If it’s not all right, it’s not yet the end.”

In the meantime, I’m just most grateful that I can even write and finish this post.

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