As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the globe; our country, and the world at large, is encountering unprecedented times. All of this has made me think of the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine’s ex, Kevin, leads her into the bizarre counter world where he and his two friends share some superficial traits with Jerry, George, and Kramer, yet they are completely opposite on the essential matters. Where Jerry and company are marked by their snark and lack of emotional commitment to anything, Kevin and his friends are kind and caring. The two sets of friends could not be more different regardless of their few shared traits. This very much feels like the world in which we are increasingly finding ourselves. Up is down. Black is white. Small is big. I awake each day in the same bed I did a month ago. I still, per doctor’s orders, take my blood pressure before getting out of bed. I still have the coffee set to be made by the time I walk into the kitchen via the same pot I have used for several years. My morning routine is quite similar, yet it is so different. I no longer drive an hour through traffic to work. Until today I had not worn a suit and tie in over 3 weeks. Even though a few aspects of my first moments each day are the same, life is fundamentally different than it was a month ago.
Yes, life, as we knew it, has come to a standstill. Economic markets, large and small, are screeching to a halt. All but the most essential work and almost our entire education system has moved to a virtual or distance space. When the various quarantine orders are lifted and we emerge from our homes we will face even more new realities. Culture, the marketplace, and normal will be something different. The pandemic this novel coronavirus has wrought will bring something to the world which is, well, novel. As we learn to navigate the coming future we will face challenges and situations that look quite similar to what we knew. However, we will need to employ new strategies to build a better culture, marketplace, and normal.
This current crisis is showing our weak spots as a society. It is quite overtly unveiling the pressure points of our country. As we emerge we need to make sure we do not fall into what professor, psychologist, and podcaster Dr. Laurie Santos calls the G.I. Joe fallacy. This is, we need not assume knowing is half the battle. Knowing our weak spots or pressure points is absurdly worthless unless we take action to course correct and strengthen them.
Throughout history humans become defined by what transpires in the tough times. When faced with the pressure of the arena of the moment we either lean into growth or negativity. We each choose our path in these instances. We choose to ignore and wallow or we choose to rise and be a hero. In the midst of the crisis, as we are currently, being a hero looks different for everyone and from day to day. Sometimes it may mean you and your family make it intact with a modicum of sanity to another day. (Trust me, I get this, my wife and I have four children aged 8 and under. Life is really tough right now.) The biggest way each of us is a hero in the here and now is to take care of the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health for ourselves and those in our care. That is the next right thing today, and tomorrow and the next for however long this national time out continues.
There will come a day when the next step in doing the right thing becomes something different. There will come a day when being a hero in this moment takes a new form. Today is not that day. Today is the day to continue to press forward in this new reality, to take time to check on our own hearts and minds. Today is the today to extend grace and patience to ourselves. We can never be the hero tomorrow will need if we do not embrace the role we need for ourselves today.