the art of pandemics

COVID-19 aka "Coronavirus" is unlike anything I’ve ever lived through. Hearing from men and women much older than me, it seems to be unlike anything they’ve lived through either. What makes this virus so unique is the same thing that makes it so common: uncertainty.


We’re in the middle of a history lesson, folks. Take the time to appreciate that the decisions we’re making today will be talked about for generations to come.


A Time Capsule


I love the thought that one day in the future we’ll talk about an event that happened in the past that we’re currently living in the present. Mind blown?

Just think, whatever we do right now serves as a mini time capsule for us to appreciate in the future. What will we do today that we’ll be proud to look back on? What will we know in the future that we don’t know now that will provide context to what we’re currently experiencing? As we sit inside the storm, what knowledge can we share to future generations that will prepare them for their own version of crisis?


These generations might not be here yet, but it doesn’t mean we can’t write to them anyway.

Dear future generations,


Today is March 19, 2020. As I write, there are more than 230,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 aka “Coronavirus” globally.


I am quarantined inside my parents house in Louisiana with my family, my girlfriend, my pets, and my laptop. We have been told by authorities not to travel, not to congregate in groups of more than ten people, not to stand nearer than 6 feet away from one another, and not to leave our homes unless absolutely necessary.

Major Spring events and many Summer events have been cancelled including nearly every sport, weddings, school, graduations, concerts, music festivals, trade shows, church, community events, and more.


For the past two weeks the stock markets have been an absolute roller coaster. World markets are up and down 5-10% per day on most days, the Federal Reserve has slashed rates to zero, and currently, government stimulus and bailout options are on the table.


Everyone is working remotely utilizing mobile technology and platforms such as Zoom, Webex, and Skype to hold meetings and keep in touch. Grocery stores have been unable to keep paper goods, hand sanitizer, and many other items on the shelves as people have hoarded items they deem necessities. Most stores have set a two item limit on items such as toilet paper and bread.

Now that you have the present context, I want to share my perspective and observations on the situation I’m experiencing.


There are two main ways to approach an event or crisis such as this.


  1. This is a threat.

  2. This is an opportunity.


While both are appropriate at respective times, there are bits of wisdom that we can gather from watching the global reaction to this pandemic. There are a few major threats (outside of contracting the virus itself) that people fear at this time:


  1. I can’t go to work/school.

  2. I can’t leave home.

  3. I might lose my job.

  4. I don’t have what I need to survive.


Each of these four concerns are real. Very real. The point that I intend to drive home is that each is whatever you make of it.


"I can’t go to the office."


I have been working remotely two out of five days a week for the past few months, but never have I worked a full remote week before this week. I had to stop and think about how drastically different this situation would have been less than ten years ago. We have technology today that enables us to meet with one another virtually while being thousands of miles away from one another physically. Working remotely has never been so seamless as it is today, yet we complain that we can’t go into the office.


Think about how big of a hit this would’ve taken on the economy if we didn’t have video conferencing technology. You’d have people either off work completely or at the office spreading the disease because they couldn’t physically work from home.


Also, global pollution levels are at record-setting lows without commuters.

There are upsides to this, people. To find the silver linings, you have to be looking for them. There are more, but I’ll digress.


"I’m stuck at home."


While it’s easy to feel trapped inside, I have never appreciated being home more than I have this week. Before the virus started, I had no plans to come home in the near future. When I heard the news that we might be quarantined, I decided that there is no better time to visit than now. I have spent each minute all week long with the people I love most doing things that I normally wouldn’t be doing.


We wake up, eat breakfast, begin working a normal business day, stop for lunch, eat lunch together, go back to work, take a break, finish working, go to the pond to feed and catch fish, walk around and play with the dogs, watch the sunset from the dock, cook and eat dinner together, and spend the evenings doing things we haven’t done in years. Last night, we watched family videos. We laughed, we cried, and we reminisced. It was magical. And to think, none of this would be happening without COVID-19. It seems like all it took for people to want to be together is telling them they have to be apart.


"I might lose my job."


This is possibly the general public’s greatest fear. Careers take years to build and moments to lose. It doesn’t take long before the fear takes over convincing us that this is another 2008. Could we go into a recession? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. Was it in 2008? It sure seemed like it, but we made it through. In 1980, Jim Rohn was asked, “What will the 80s be like?” Jim smiled and said, “The next 10 years are going to be a lot like the last 10 years.” Spot on.

Very little of what happens is new or novel. It might take a different form than something in the past, but much of our lives is cyclical. Say worse comes to worse and we do lose a job. It could be the best thing to ever happen to us. Every time someone tells me they either just quit their job, lost their job, or are looking for a job, I tell them congratulations. God taught me more in the season when I didn’t have a paycheck coming in each month than he has any other period of my life to date. He wants to know we’re trusting of him and dependent on him. Are we?


This could be the chance to chase what you love. This could be the time to slow down and be with the people who mean the most to you before it’s too late. Take it as a blessing, and He will bless you through it.


Do I have enough to survive?


Go into any grocery store and you’ll see the results of folks being driven with the threatened mindset that what they have might not be enough. I’ve seen it countless times before (mainly during hurricanes or minor snow “storms” in the South) when people purchase much more than they need leaving shortages behind. We all need toilet paper, so save some for the rest of us!

Regardless, this pandemic has reshaped the mindset of many out there as to what “surviving” actually means.


While we watch the death toll rise from this terrible outbreak, I hope what everyone is learning from this isn’t how not to die, but rather how to live.

I’ve seen things this week I haven’t seen in years. Families outside together, neighborhood kids riding their bikes down the street, children fishing on docks with their parents, neighbors riding horses in the pasture, board games being pulled out and dusted off from the game room shelves.


This is life.


When’s the last time we took a second to step away from our work to notice the azaleas are blooming? When’s the last time we put the phone down to notice our kids are growing up and our parents are getting older? When’s the last time we took the airpods out and threw the ‘01-’02 tape in the VCR to laugh about the front teeth we were missing at family Christmas or learning how to ride your bike?

Building a treehouse, catching lizards outside, and playing catch with Dad aren’t things you grow out of. They’re things you grow away from if you don’t catch yourself.

If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, I wouldn’t have slowed down to realize a beautiful part of life was passing me by.

As a threat, the mindset says, “I can’t go to work and I’m stuck at my house. I might get fired, and then I won’t have what I need to survive. I want my life back.”


That same thought as an opportunity says, “I can’t go to the office, but I can get a lot done from home. This job is a blessing, but it isn’t everything. I have more than I need to survive because I have my family. I have my life back.”


In my opinion, the greatest threat posed by COVID-19 is that we go back to life as usual without milking this time for all its worth.

Spend time with your kids, parents. Spend time with your parents, kids. Write that book you’ve been wanting to write. Paint that picture, and start that blog. Eat dinner as a family. Play fetch with your dog. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to slow down a bit. It might be inconvenient, but it also could be just what we needed. I’m not sure when it will end, but it will end when it’s supposed to. I hope we’re all better for it.


Don’t forget what this is like, and make the most of it while it’s here.


Thanks, Coronavirus


Abundantly,


hw