During my early years, I would hear stories of a pandemic. Primarily the Spanish influenza, that ravaged the world at the beginning of the twentieth century. This was as far removed as living on the planet Mars. That last statement is no longer true. The world moves at a quick pace and the anticipation initially was fear, followed by fix this problem quickly so we could return to life as we knew it. It appears that COVID-19 will be with us much longer than anticipated. The following are a few items we might learn through this pandemic.
- You don’t know what you got, until it’s gone. This is an old cliche, but is still relevant today. As humans, we take things for granted, if you don’t believe me, let the power go off at your house for a couple of days. The days of going to restaurants, concerts, parties, sports events and just cookouts with friends seem far removed. I remember prior to the pandemic that fighting boredom was a subject entire industries and businesses tackled. Boredom has taken on a new role these days. We have all been affected by the pandemic. Some people have lost their jobs and their lifestyle has changed even more drastically. Some people have lost family members and friends to the pandemic. Maybe, the pandemic will remind us the greatest asset we have is life. If you are alive and reading this, you have all you need. Look to the future, not the past for your life, we still have many things to be thankful for today.
- We are truly social creatures. I am what they call a high functioning introvert. Some people get their batteries recharged socializing with other people. My greatest moments are when I am alone. That being said, I still miss some of my planned and random social connections. I love music and would attend 4 to 8 concerts per year. I have not been to even one concert in 2020; I miss going to concerts. The pandemic has shown many of us how woefully unsatisfying Social Media can really be. It has its place, but it will never take the place of laughing with someone in person, giving a hug, or just being in the vicinity of another human being. I miss sitting in my church and enjoying visiting with friends. When some of the constraints of the pandemic are lifted, don’t take the social interactions for granted, connect with other human beings; in the end relationships are the only thing that matter in this life.
We look at money incorrectly. This is not a problem connected with a pandemic solely but has just been exacerbated by its length. During the good financial times, the average person will get in debt and try to pay down debt and save during the bad times. This is exactly the opposite of good financial responsibility. During high times, we need to get rid of debt, we have the liquidity during those times to free ourselves of any small (or large) debts we have picked up. Then,when hard times hit, you have much of your budget free to make investments or buy things at a significantly reduced price. Many people have been saving more money during this pandemic, take this habit with you as life eventually returns to pre-pandemic paces. Don’t be afraid to share with others during these stressful days. The legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren should be one of caring for others, and there has never been a better time to start laying down that example.
Finally, there isn’t a normal or new normal. There isn’t some better life, there is only life. We think in terms of weeks, months and years. We remember the past with the same time frames. Life is lived one moment at a time. It is easy to think of your mortality when a pandemic arrives, but that same mortality exists without the pandemic. You have the chance of a lifetime, right now, to slow your life down and evaluate what is most important to you and your family. Viktor Frankl said it best in his book “Man’s search for meaning”, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves“. Make these the best days of your life.
I hope this makes you slow down and think of how precious life really is. A virus cannot imprison you, it must ask your permission to do such a thing. I will leave you with another quote by Viktor Frankl on freedom, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”