It has been difficult, lately, to find the energy to "deal". Our world feels upside down, inside out and unfamiliar. There's talk about a new normal as if we've determined some daily ritual when in fact "normal" is still a moving target. Our feeds are constantly bombarded with new information and inevitably, thoughts and opinions and recommendations follow. For a time the world has come to a halt, it's surprisingly loud. I feel like for the past few weeks I've kept a foot out, struggling to think clearly among the noise and wondering if it is worth the energy to add my voice to it . I'm still looking for a balance between engaged (aka dying for social connection) and giving myself a little processing time.
But as the title suggests, this bit is not intended to gripe about where we are. In reflecting and processing a thought came to me that lead to a moment of pure amazement. I saw something about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and there were a lot of familiarities. Masks were mandated, distancing was encouraged, certain supplies became hard to come by and even mental health got a little attention. And then I thought how different it must have been. Telephones had just recently become common so connecting was nothing like it is today. Working from home was not an option for any paying role. Some personal medicine cabinets today are better equipped than hospital beds of the time. I imagined the difficult choices people like my great grandparents must have been faced with to keep them and their children safe, but also fed.
We have a lot more control than we realize
Viruses, diseases, germs... these are nothing new. Epidemics and plagues are recorded many times over throughout history. Most days it feels easy to drag ourselves through whatever a "normal day in a pandemic" looks like for us and think "I can't believe this is my life right now".. and that's valid.. this is an insane pivot in our lifestyle to say the least. But I wonder how the energy would shift if once a day we turned that into "I can't believe this is what our pandemic looks like!" in the sense that we have really lucked out. More generations in history have probably experienced some type of epidemic than those that have not. Introduction of a new virus to the human species might be beyond our control, but how lucky are we that the biggest one of our generation (at least it better be, I mean..) has come at a time when we can completely isolate ourselves and still speak face-to-face with a relative across the globe? When, even if we have to go into work because our job is an essential public service, we can come home and have our groceries delivered to the door without ever having to exchange cash or even speak, no less spread our germs. How incredibly privileged are we that the simplest act of public care is wearing a mask which we get to turn into a personalized fashion statement? How incredible is it that if we lose our jobs there are so many options for us to have our own online business up and running within a day? Our lives may feel like they are entirely out of our control when we compare it to 6 months ago, however, compared to the last pandemic, we have a considerable amount of options.
We're getting that break we've been asking for
With enough control for many of us to maintain a somewhat steady living, obligations to focus on the "essential" has really opened us up to simplify our lives. I remember not too long ago wishing life was a little less complex so I could focus on one area without feeling like I was letting another slide. Building new habits gets difficult with constant interruptions in our routine. Without trips or birthdays or conferences to attend, I've been able to work on creating healthy habits and simplifying my routines. By turning these good choices into intuitive actions *I'm hopeful* it will be easier to keep these habits even when interruptions begin popping up on my schedule.
Staying in has lead to looking in... and reaching out
Even when those events and complications start to come back, so many of us have had this time to really take in information and look at ourselves, our priorities and how our daily choices affect others. I said in the beginning of this that I had hoped the big takeaway will be more thoughtfulness in our actions if a simple, every-day occurrence like having a conversation could unknowingly have devastating effects on many lives outside of our circle. I've seen so many conversations stemming from that basic thought. It starts by realizing you could have no symptoms but pass on a virus to dozens of people by simply continuing life as normal.Then you learn.. This thing I buy is disproportionately affecting a group of people.. Ignoring these stories is allowing this group to be mistreated.. Just using this verbiage is spreading a painful stereotype against this group. More and more of us are realizing that we now live in a world where it's easy to hurt others and changing that takes a lot of effort. How convenient we have all of this time right now! How lucky! Yes, it's hard, and yes, it's overwhelming and no, we definitely don't have all the answers right now. But with so many of us able to stay in and and think in, each of us could easily choose one change to come out of this a better neighbor and citizen.
Pandemics aren't great. 2020 has only been impressive if you're looking at it like a soap opera script. Honestly if you're not exhausted, what kind of coffee are you drinking and is it even legal? Ultimately, though, I'm so grateful for this time. I'm wonder-struck by the abilities, opportunities and amount of "normalcy" we are still afforded during a global crises. I'm appreciative for the time I have to reevaluate and simplify my life. I am moved by the promise of emerging in a better world after having this shared experience. Good things grow from uncomfortable change. When it starts to feel heavy that you've been thrust into this change having never agreed to it, I hope this perspective lightens the load for you. And if it helps, have a cookie ;)