Something feels different.
What the hell is it? You tell me.
Fear? Anxiety? Uncertainty? Panic? Loneliness?
My neighborhood, your neighborhood; I’m sure they look very similar. Empty parks, empty streets, no kids at school bus stops, vacant campuses, restaurants and stores are all closed and even if we do get out of the house, we find people in masks passing each other, further apart than they ever used to.
It’s like we’ve all been placed into a national ‘time out.’
“Go stand in the corner by yourself. Think about your decisions. Think about what matters.”
Nothing like a global pandemic to serve as a great big, stinging slap in the face reminder - we do not control what happens. We only control our response.
So lets do this. Let’s take on the crisis, reframe things and tell ourselves what we’re really feeling.
“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
It’s not fear, it’s gratitude - for what really matters: our health and the ability to effect change.
Riches, power, status; have nothing on our wellness. The clarity to think this entire situation through, make rational decisions toward a greater good; the ability to physically exert change and help ourselves and others; the emotional capacity to be compassionate in the face of rampant panic and anxiety - are all exponentially more valuable than any title, item or dollar.
It’s not anxiety, it’s agency - acting with responsibility outward to others and accountability inward for ourselves.
Maybe you are getting a little stir crazy at home because that inner drive to be useful to your tribe is getting louder. There is a sense of ownership welling up inside of you. Ownership of your family’s safety and to the well being of your neighborhood; it’s tugging at you. Embrace it. Do something. Be something.
Be kind. Kinder than usual. Kindness is like currency, it circulates.
Check on your elderly neighbors and include their needs on your next grocery run. Don’t buy more than you need and hoard resources, someone somewhere is shopping day by day with funds that are not replenishing.
Meet up online and share some laughs with family and friends. It’s medicine, it has always been.
Also, take it easy on yourself, it’s ok to be afraid, these are unprecedented times.
Just be afraid and keep moving forward.
It’s not uncertainty, it’s resilience - we can get through this.
This is a test. An obstacle. Resistance. It will make us stronger, because innovation thrives on struggle. Schools and businesses are re-opening in online lessons and meetings. Companies are re-tooling their processes and filling community needs. Distilleries are making hand sanitizers and auto makers are building ventilators. Adaptation is the greatest expression of a healthy system. Yes, when this is all over, we’re going to look different and we’re going to be stronger. Be patient and be adaptable, more than ever before. Then, get to work.
It’s not panic, it’s purpose - always be moving toward the things that matter.
Maybe before this all happened we all fell a little asleep at the wheel. Life was happening, day by day, and we were looking straight ahead as it zipped by.
A few months ago families would have to schedule time to get together. This week, we are having family dinner every day. That alone is going to fix a lot of problems we used to have.
Outside of our homes, supplies are low and tensions are high; it wouldn’t take much to pit people against each other. But, we’re not against each other. In fact, we’re sharing, encouraging, empathizing and reaching out more than the news will ever reveal. Decide where you fit in to all of this and add your part of the solution. Social distancing is a physical procedure that helps prevent the spread of a virus, it’s not a sentence to solitary confinement. Watch a musician or participate in a yoga class online, take a family virtual museum tour, write an actual letter on actual paper and send it to a friend in the actual mail, hike a trail (yes its safe), bake an enormous lasagna, anything - especially with and for the people that matter. That, is purpose.
It’s not loneliness, it’s the realization that we are interdependent.
Sure, it took a pandemic that forced us to isolate to really see it; but we are hard wired to work together. It’s how our ancestors walked out of the frozen forests, how our grandparents and parents survived the Great Depression and two world wars and how we will survive this. We’ll lean on each other, we’ll do our part for the group and we’ll find again that greatness doesn’t come from opportunity. Greatness comes from a problem that needs solving and people coming together to make things better.
Hopefully whatever you felt before you read this feels at least a little different now.
Again, we don't control what happens, we only control how we respond.
It is what it is, and it is here. It is big and scary.
Everyday I watch that damn map with its menacing red dots all over our nation, growing larger, creeping closer to home and I can’t help but think what will I want to say about myself when this is all over? That I watched 9 seasons of streaming television, end to end? Twice?
No. I would rather say that I remodeled myself, strengthened my purpose, acted with integrity and grew better bonds with my family. That I had the courage to reach, act and do for others that could not do for themselves. That I learned more patience, more kindness. That there was a need and I did my part to help. That I made my grandparents and parents proud.
Maybe in the end, this crisis is just an opportunity to become the people we aspire to be.
Do amazing things.