PEERS Perspectives is a blog series that offers thoughts and reflections from our staff and community members on mental health, current events, and the ways they affect our lives.

Today’s post on the COVID-19 crisis is written by Communications Coordinator Joshua Walters.

I know what you’re thinking…

Is it the End of the World?

The answer is yes.

The answer is no.

The answer is its working itself out somehow.

I’ll tell you where I was on March 11, 2020, when the travel ban was instated. Breezing my way through Glenview, a little known neighborhood on Park Blvd, in Oakland – just to get some sushi and eat it at Lake Merritt. I put in my order and went next door, to the corner store. The news was on, Trump had just given his speech, I had just missed it. A guy ran in the store and said all travel had been shut down to the US for 30 days. It was just me, the cashier, the man, and everything we could buy or pillage. My stomach got nervous. I started to feel a hint of being trapped, and a flavor of last year’s paranoia. “Is this the end of the world?” – Trapped in the U.S.?

My survivalist nature took over…my first thought was, “At least I got a full tank of gas.” A woman came in shocked about the news, stocking up on toilet paper. I left for my sushi. “I don’t have a good local mechanic,” I thought. I continued on my way to my 19 year old, 200k mile car…is this carmageddon? I drove to Lake Merritt. Thinking of my parents, who were on vacation in New Zealand. I thought that I didn’t have any children of my own. All the women I had ever loved. It’s really about who you know, isn’t it? Your connections, who you can trust and depend on. Your resources, funds, access to drinking water…ways you can protect yourself, if you own property. All these life lessons flashed before me. I found a spot on the grass next to the lake.

I put my fears to the side and settled into the fact that this moment was all I really have. The Right Now, meditation on a slow meal, taking time to really taste the appreciation for what I have, instead of “Future Trippin’” my way into a paralyzing state.  

I put my sushi down and caught the last glimpse of the sun just in time to recite the only prayer I know. “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You…” I raised my hands in a salute and stretched out my body, trying the best I could to breathe, relax and enjoy my meal. Whether or not it’s the end of the world, this is a pretty good place to be.