The Coronavirus has abruptly changed life as we knew it. Daily routines that once gave us comfort are now memories of the past. Our morning exchange with the coffee barista, hanging out with co-workers in the office, an evening yoga class or visit to the gym, all of it now on hold for an indeterminate amount of time. Replacing our routines is the world of Zoom video conference calls, teaching others how to use Zoom video conference calls, watching daily task force briefings, checking the stock market, recalculating how much money we have lost, and sharing videos created by people around the globe who are also struggling to come up with ways to exist in a world of social distance. It is the new world order and we are all adopting to it in our own ways.
Personally, I was writing my first book before the virus came along, and as such, I saw any reason to distract me from writing as valid, but this lockdown was not what I had in mind. This is more than a distraction. The coronavirus is a full-time exercise in paranoia comprised of checking my temperature, taking deep breaths to ensure I still maintain full lung capacity, avoiding people in the market, washing my hands over and over, and then wondering if I washed my hand thoroughly before I touched my face. The fear leaves me so exhausted that now I also take daily naps. Out of all of these new habits the naps seem worthy of adding to my old routine once things get back to normal. Waking up for a second time in 24 hours sort of feels like having two days in one. Still, no matter how I spin it, this sudden halt to the daily routine is jarring, and the sense of foreboding is palpable. But as I was going through some notes this morning, I came across a quote that I found comforting…
“Though there will always be challenges in life, it is how we respond to these challenges that determines if we experience happiness.”
I read that a few times as CNBC flashed a headline across the television indicating that the market was down again despite the Fed’s stimulus package. We just lost more money. So, I read it again. There will always be challenges. How I respond determines if I experience happiness or sadness. Hmm. I find myself thinking about a good way to respond to the loss of our financial security. Vacations are overrated? Going out to dinner is overrated? Now we can stay home and eat canned tuna? Yes, that’s it! I love tuna. This is fantastic. And it just so happens that Costco has tuna on sale right now. Things just keep getting better.
Sarcasm aside, I know what the quote is trying to say, and I realize it is the right way to think about things. And so I consider another perspective. My son is home from college any my daughter, who lives across town, has also joined us for the duration of this shelter in place order. We are sharing a small apartment, and each of us is craving some privacy. But, I have the sheer pleasure of seeing my adult children every day, even if we are all wearing headphones. I watch my wife and daughter practice yoga together. My son cooks a gourmet dinner for us, and suggests we say a prayer before eating. It is a wonderful idea. Something we rarely do. A prayer expressing our appreciation, love, and thoughts for healing the world. We play cards or watch a movie together. I look across the table and see how happy my wife is in this moment.
In twenty years from now, when I look back on 2020, it will not be the fear, sadness or fiscal woes created by Coronavirus that I recall. Rather, it will be this unexpected gift of having our children here and being together as a family. What a unique blessing to have this time. How we respond to the challenges determines if we experience happiness. I am responding with appreciation and love. Will we get on each other’s nerves, invade personal space, argue, and grow incredibly frustrated? Absolutely. But we may never have this time together again.
The best we can do is be present, or as Ram Dass so simply and eloquently said, Be Here Now, and accept what life brings to our doorstep. And so today I am reaching out to connect with you. Social distancing is the wrong term for what we are all doing. We are physically distancing. But socially, I think this may be our moment to come together.
Finally, a personal note to Kim Kardashian: Please share this post.