Now What? Reflections on Life Now as It Is….
This is real. Life as we knew it is shutting down and we find ourselves more and more shut off from one another. We are in the middle of a pandemic and suddenly, abruptly our lives are becoming what we have only seen on screen in the movies. Its surreal, things are slower, its eerie and scary, its isolating, its quiet and so much more. Now what?
With more and more restrictions imposed each day, as the numbers of the spread of Covid-19 increase rapidly, we have no choice but to adjust as best we can to our “new normal.” Yet this is anything but normal and realistically, the situation will worsen before we see or begin to feel any improvement.
It becomes clearer and clearer each moment, we MUST practice social distancing to get a handle on the spread of this virus. The intention to “flatten the curve” is so we don’t replicate the realities in countries like China or Italy, so our healthcare system is not overburdened by the ill, unable to care for, help or save those who can be helped or saved. The push towards social distancing is not intended to stir panic but to buy us time, give healthcare workers an adequate chance to breath, gather supplies and do their jobs and to save lives.
Our daily lives are constricted, typical freedoms on hold or lost for now. Our economy has come to a halt and our lives will forever be altered by this experience for however long we must endure. it’s impossible to know at this very point in time exactly how we will be affected long-term and for how much longer we must endure.
I have this vision, as campy as it sounds, that there will be a point in time when word hits all the homes in every community around the world that Covid-19 was defeated, and we are free again. Then we all run into the streets joyfully, embracing one another, laughing, singing, dancing, crying tears of joy celebrating connection, being close and sharing life with one another. One giant communal world block party. Inhale and exhale, can’t you see it too?
But that vision may be a long way off, months at least and until then we have much to face – mostly hunkered down, inside. For the lucky ones we will be inside with people we like, love and feel safe with. For others this is not the case, as they will be with others that bring feelings of distrust, tension or a true lack of safety. And for many others this time will only bring them face to face with the deeper and darker realities of their already painful isolation.
Add to this mix the financial realities of a halted economy. Perhaps a far greater cost, the impact of lost income for many who already have limited or no resources as well as lost income for those who carry expenses they will no longer be able to cover. The economic realities are enough to unleash a pandemic of panic. And then add in the question of what if or when will I contract the virus and what might that look like? How sick might I get, or will I be one of the fortunate ones with a mild form?
So many questions and looming uncertainties. While outlining all of these questions and possibilities may sound pessimistic, please know that is not my intention, I am simply looking at things as realistic as possible so that we can best prepare ourselves in any way we can.
I have seen many posts and articles about the taking a positive attitude during this time and how this universal “slow down” is a chance for our world to “reset”, to go inside and reflect and evaluate how we have been living. Looking for the opportunity for growth in this hardship and how we must focus not on the mounting fears and anxiety but instead seek out the chances for evolution and change – on both the micro and macro levels.
All of which I absolutely agree with and support for I believe in the resilience, creative ingenuity and energy of the human spirit. For it is when we are pushed beyond what we feel we can endure that we either lay down and play dead or rise up, dig in deep within ourselves and find another way to be, to survive and to live. And that is what we need and will need to do as this continues to unfold.
The task at hand now, as I see it, is staying open, aware and present to the reality of our world and attend to what we can in the most pragmatic, grounded and productive way while not getting swept away in the panic or fear or alternatively checking out, downplaying the reality or simply avoiding it all together. We must try in earnest to act responsibly with intention, awareness and grace and humanity, and this must be a universal effort.
Furthermore, life now is proving to us how deeply interconnected we are. To consider that a virus, a microscopic molecular particle can spread around the world in a matter of weeks impacting life so gravely. How innocent of us to think we are so ultimately separate from one another. For we are not.
Look, there is no one singular answer for how to best manage now especially how rapidly things are evolving and changing moment to moment. What I do know and am trying my best to practice is the following – perhaps this may be of service to you and yours.
1 – Manage your expectations of yourself and others. These are not “normal” times, some people are hypervigilant and on edge and others may be working hard to guard against feeling any fear and or simply trying their best to take it all in stride. Its crucial to remember that what we take to be typical behaviors in typical times are somewhat out the window.
2 – This is not a time to judge or criticize others. Everyone is doing the best they can and everyone’s situation is their own to learn how to navigate. We tend to judge what we don’t understand or agree with. Instead turn in the way of lending the ear of compassion and if you just can’t relate, suspend the judgment and criticism. This is time for coming together, even as we practice social distancing, we need more than ever to come together and so its more important than ever to not think or act in divisive or hurtful ways.
3 – Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Make sure you have food, medicine and essential supplies for at least a good 2-4 weeks. Prepare people, not out of panic, but rather prudence.
4 – Self-care is essential: Meditate, read, write, journal, take a walk, exercise, eat as healthy as possible, connect with friends and loved ones via video-chat, phone calls, stand outside and talk to neighbors even if you are looking at another 6 feet or more apart, that connection is invaluable especially now. The videos of Italians sharing music out on their balconies to get through this is just so poignant and beautiful and we can all learn from that power of art and creative steps to make connection to one another.
5 – Help others when and how you can. If you have a song you can share, do so. If you can lead people through a dance, a yoga class or meditation class or any skill you wish to share and teach others via social media or videochat do so. If you have extra money to donate to food and aid organizations do so. Call friends and those you know who are alone near and far and check in on them. If you have extra supplies, you can sanitize and safely drop off at a food pantry, do so. There are and will be many people who find themselves in dire circumstances. While we cannot get up and get out to physically help in person, there will be no shortage of ways to spread benevolence and down the road, there will be plenty more ways to pitch in and help the others we share our world with, especially as this evolves.
6 – Get into a Routine. Whether home with kids or not, get into a routine and a schedule. Do not waste your day away laying around in your pajamas. Get up, get dressed as you would if you were leaving the house on a typical “pre-corona” day. Eat, exercise and practice self-care (can refer to the blurb on self-care above). If you are one to shrug off a routine, no better time like the present to practice with different routines and find what works best for you.
7 – Manage your Media Diet. While we are all hungry for more information as this unfolds, and more information can help to sooth the anxiety of not-knowing, over-saturation is not healthy. Take in media at certain intervals and mix it up with other sources of information. Read a book, a magazine on another topic. Work on a puzzle. We are steeped quite deeply in the current coronavirus world. It is here, we are in it, we can and need to switch the gears of our attention to other topics too in order to catch our breath and ground ourselves.
8 – Reevaluate how to manage your time. The rat-race we have been used to has pretty much stopped. And while the rat-race has been replaced now by the race to beat corona, many of us have time, so much time on our hands right now. How can we take advantage of this imposed slow-down? Whether worried for your survival and next paycheck, or how to homeschool the kids while working from home, or excited about the time to take some online classes you have always been curious about, ultimately we have very little choice than to sit and learn how to be with ourselves now in this new slower pace.
9 – Find ways you can feel empowered in purposeful, growth-promoting ways. There is a lot of information out there and there are a lot of people sharing. Don’t be shy to share your feelings, inspirations, helpful tips that can help others. This is not a time for spreading negativity and hate. It is a time to work on healing and coming together in helpful ways to manage during a time of shared distress. Think before you speak and ask, “will this help anyone or will this hurt anyone” before you click share.
10 – Find ways to smile and laugh and MOVE. We need levity to counterbalance the gravity of any situation. We need movement to counterbalance and fight off stagnation and depression. I have seen many memes passed around, the chuckles we get are worth their weight in gold when it comes to managing the weight of the difficulties that befall us. Don’t be ashamed to find humor where you can and loosen up a bit as you can. And please get up and move, clean, exercise, stretch, dance and jump around. Our bodies were designed to move for optimal health. Please do so mindfully and playfully and joyfully!
11 – Take Recommended Steps if You Get Sick. Do not go directly to the ER. Again, we are intending to NOT overburden the healthcare system unnecessarily. If you feel sick, call your doctor and follow the steps they give. Here are tips for what to do if you feel symptomatic https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
We will get through this and find ourselves on the other side of this. I so very long for that time when I get to meet you at the world communal block party….until then my friend…please stay healthy.