Last week, I forecast that within a week the 1,000 United States COVID cases and the 120,000 international cases would seem nostalgic.
Sadly, they are; everyone saw that coming. I’m not a soothsayer. Oh-so-seven days ago, states were floating the concept of limiting gatherings to 250-500 people. How quaint is that? Seniors were outside; the Bay Area was bustling; coffee shops, diners, and bars were open for business.
Oh, what a difference makes one week.
Currently the U.S. now has 7,668 cases with 117 deaths. The world count has risen to 212,799 with 8,787 people succumbing. It is recommended that those of us 65+ “self-isolate,” a term utterly unknown but a few weeks past. Recommendations are that we limit crowds to fewer than ten. Pubs, restaurants and eateries are shuttered. The markets are off approximately 35 percent from their highs, companies are failing, average people — like you and me — are without income. San Francisco is closed. Hospital ships are being sent to New York and the West Coast.
Four to five days from now, this might read like sentimental history.
I am case-closed certain that I am not the only person who feels like he or she has been transported into a sci-fi, environmental, economic, post-apocalyptic, end-of-times, action-adventure movie for which I did not audition; nor did I have any interest in being cast. Certainly, soon, the credits will roll, house lights will come up, and we can rise from our seats and leave the theater; a great idea if movie houses were even open for business.
If someone would have written this as a plot for a movie, it wouldn’t have been green-lit. No one would believe it.
Nonetheless, here we are. There’s no sugar coating it; things appear dire.
So, now that I’ve harshed your mellow, let’s look at where we go from here.
Recently, I heard an eloquent, simple analysis of how we react. It went approximately like this: Something happens; we create a story about its meaning; that story in turn creates our reality, and therefore what we believe is possible or not. In effect, “What we say to ourselves determines what we do to ourselves.”
Don’t misinterpret; this is scary stuff. Real lives are being affected. Some people will not survive, others will suffer long term economic and physical damage. Thinking positively and placing our hands on our chests, closing our eyes, and chanting “Om”, will not eradicate the virus nor heal the economy.
Yet, while we gingerly, one-step-in-front of the other, shakily traverse the swaying rope bridge from what was to what will be, it is essential we keep first and foremost the notion that we will emerge from this fiery, molten, hellscape. The terrain in which we will find ourselves will be shaped by how we think now, today, as we struggle to endure. We need to examine the thoughts and beliefs — in effect, the stories — we are telling ourselves; if we are going to find our way to a better place.
To that end, some thoughts to remember.
- Take time to play. The non-stop barrage of stress and news won’t end soon. Turn it off as you can! As Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof said, “Good news can wait. Bad news will not go away.” Take down time to enjoy what you can. Be grateful for those moments.
- Social distancing goes against our nature of wanting to be with others. It’s difficult and therefore feels foreign. However, do not mistake it for emotional distance. Remain close to those who matter.
- We are better together than we are separate. There is no “other.” Creating more “Us”s and “Them”s divides us. Find common ground. We must work together, locally, nationally, and even globally.
- Thank those who are helping; the city, county, and state workers scrambling to make us safe; first-responders and health-care professionals who might literally be putting their lives on the line for the greater good; even the grocery store employees working extra hours to make sure we have what we need.
- Reach out for help; don’t be afraid nor ashamed to admit you need it. As others pull you up, pull up those behind you, an endless chain of support lifting all.
- We are all afraid. Remember that. We are all “holding on as best we can” as we explore this frightening, unfamiliar, uncertain land in which we find ourselves. Be patient with others. Be kind to whomever else you meet on the road. Treat all, including yourself, with compassion.
Finally, keep first and foremost in your thoughts that we will get though this.
We will still be here. The culture and society we knew will be transformed; the new realm will be altered; its landmarks foreign. Our norms shifted. But the smoke will clear, the sun will shine through. We will emerge, battle-scarred, weary, rising upright into the light. How we think about those future days will determine what they will be.
Imagine a better world from all this.
Stay healthy. Be well. Help each other.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and founder of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, where he can be contacted for coaching, consulting, and presentations. He is conducting a virtual on-line workshop on setting goals and getting past what holds you back on March 28. You can find out more at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/intentions