EMAIL #63 - 22nd, March, 2020 - SPECIAL EDITION FROM MARYANNE IN ITALY
These are very turbulent times for all of us and at present my family is experiencing an extra dimension with Maryanne and Maggie living in Italy. So, Maryanne has stepped up and written this week’s email. This is pretty significant for us all.
Hearing the news that the Corona Virus (COVID-19) social distancing regulations have come into place this week in Australia I thought it necessary that I write this week’s DDB email.
It has been seven months now since Maggie and I left Australia for Florence Italy.
It is hard to believe that in that short time Florence and particularly Italy as a whole has been through a heat wave over summer , had an extraordinarily wet autumn, with rivers and canals that rose in November with in centimetres of the level that broke the banks of the Arno during the 1966 floods , an unusually warm winter and now a Coronavirus outbreak that is creating a whole new vocabulary for all of us with words like novella, social distancing and flattening the curve. It is hard to understand what that all means.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was composing long lengthy emails to my friends updating them on our adventure and how extraordinarily happy our daughter is here having seamlessly slipped into a way of life too agreeable with her disposition. It is as though the universe had done an audit on her sense of belonging and dropped her into the epicentre of an existence full of love and joy and adventure. With that came a new lease of confidence and self-reflection and gratitude but most importantly of all perspective which was the main motivation for the trip. Her dreams for her future are bigger than before although she doesn’t really know what that looks like.
Fast forward and we are currently in Day 11 of total lockdown in Italy and preceding that we had a week of social distancing protocols across the whole country .The Italian Government's call to arms around February 21 to collectively fight the contagion of Covid-19 has felt like a very organic shift from a happy energetic morning espresso to a calm behavioural transition into regulatory submission and self-isolation.
Last night as the Australian Government announced that very soon they would be closing the borders to all travellers and escalating travel warnings to a level 5, my phone exploded with messages of “come home now and get out of there” from my friends but particularly my family. It was very unsettling, and I went from feeling in control of my circumstances to having difficulty even processing the decision that was being asked of me. For the first time in my life I felt paralysed to move forward. Which for anyone that knows me that is not how I roll.
During the health crisis so far, which is making extraordinary headlines across the world, Maggie and I have felt very safe here in Florence. The Italians have focused on the profoundly serious task at hand by respecting social distancing and practicing strict hygiene protocols. In a country that is known for its chaotic systems and passionate resistance to compliance they have instead demonstrated a tangible sense of “we’re in this together”, keeping one meter apart in the shops, no hugs, no handshakes, no Aperitivo. We can all trust that the supply and demand of essential shopping will be stable and the solidarity in the community is undeniable.
It is hard to get your head around the fact that something so big can also be simultaneously so small , so globally big that it doesn’t matter what country you are in, it is happening but so small that we are all focusing on our own individual experience and all witnessing the social psychology and spiritual impact of a truly global phenomena. It is an extraordinary time.
Australia is in the stage of emotional panic that we here in Italy felt a few weeks ago , we are all slow learners and it is easy to get whipped up by the media and experience fear. But I was always taught there were two types of fear , "wisdom fear" which in this case is , wash your hands , or "neurotic fear" , fight over rolls of toilet paper .The cultural priorities are being exposed too with Australia selfishly stripping supermarket shelves , America stockpiling bullets and Italy sharing in collective thinking and absolute solidarity. But Italy the country, is a seasoned veteran having been through two world wars and this biological warfare is evoking the same spirit of the Italian resistance to fascism.
What I have learnt from being in Italy during one of the most unprecedented health crisis with the Novella Corona Virus is if the Leadership does not invoke trust there will be fear but not the kind that is productive. If you respond with the neurotic type of fear, we are seeing in many countries around the world you will make decisions that you will regret. By NOT using your "wisdom fear" you will jeopardise the safety of the other people around you , the guys in your team, your job, your livelihood , your security, your happiness, your courage and even your relationship with yourself. You are all in this together.
I must admit I felt the grip of fear twist a knot in my stomach at 3 am Thursday morning when my phone went off calling me home and it was at that point I had to ask for help. Help from the people that knew me best, the people I trust. Which is also why I felt it was necessary to write this week's email because I had to call on my fear which for me is my intuition and I needed that validated by the people I trust. This crisis will pass, and I know that to stay put and not return home sounds counter intuitive to what everyone at home is advising me to do. To make the long haul back to Australia right now with constantly changing border controls, disappearing flights and the closing of airline services feels more risky than staying in Florence, washing my hands and keeping my distance.
Maggie and I feel safe in Italy and we are experiencing the situation firsthand. It is not a good situation and we are nervous .Enrico Rossi , President of our region has told us we can expect the contagion to reach its peak in Tuscany on March the 28th but the hospitals are in a state of preparedness , he said. Dario Nardelli the Mayor of Florence has reassured us that the increase of 20 new cases overnight, each night over the last 10 days does not represent exponential spreading and our statistics are about to flat line. That is good news because we have come to trust the statistics even though Northern Italy at the moment seems to be increasing in the narrative sense and being described as a situation worse than Wuhan, China.
I know Dave would be using his "wisdom fear" right now. Trust me I would not have married a man who would buckle under the behavioural impositions which is being enforced on every one for the next few months.
This is about trust in each other that we will do the right thing collectively. In Italy, la dolce vita will rise again, bars and churches will fill again, and friends of Florence will return. This I know.
Get yourself familiar with the theory of exponential spreading and listen to the statistics not the media.
Here is a great link to understand Exponential growth and lag time.https://tim.blog/2020/03/17/predicting-hospital-capacity-why-to-act-early-how-to-think-about-lag-time-and-a-model-you-can-use/?utm_source=convertkit&utm_medium=convertkit&utm_campaign=weekly-roundup-hospital-capacity