Conditions brought about by the COVID–19 pandemic here in the United States and throughout the world are forcing dramatic behavior changes that were unthinkable months or even weeks ago. We had a first taste of these conditions last year when we experienced multiple days of power interruptions, due to the massive fires, here in Northern California. However, those conditions, difficult as they were, were geographically targeted, lasted only a few days, and minimally impacted our social interactions (at least during the day). Additionally, those with economic means could “escape” to other areas away from the smoke and power interruptions.
Now, these “escape” opportunities do not exist. We are all affected. All socioeconomic classes, ethnic groups, races, and religions are equally impacted, and no one can change the outcome. Furthermore, we do not have anywhere to go, as the COVID–19 virus pandemic is now global, and our movement is generally restricted. Fear also plays a role here, as the lingering threat of an invisible and highly contagious virus that renders powerful nations like China or Germany somewhat hopeless can be overwhelming.
As our businesses close and new edicts require many of us to work from home, we are forced to reevaluate and perhaps amend our behavior in multiple ways, and our routines are greatly impacted. Amidst all these changes, I propose we consider many positive aspects:
- We’ll have more free time. Many of our daily movements––including commuting, shopping, visits to the gym, movies, bars, coffee shops, et al––have been restricted by fiat, resulting in a net gain of several hours a day, available to be redeployed to other activities.
- We will spend more time indoors. Most of us will be spending inordinate amounts of time at home, giving us a unique opportunity to rediscover the people with whom we share our roof, or even those with whom we share walls or fences. We’ll have opportunities to reacquaint ourselves with all the stuff we have accumulated in our closets over the years and decide what we *really need*. We’ll be able to reconnect with our relatives, close or distant, who may be facing challenges during this crazy time. We have an opportunity to let go of our grievances, evaluate what is essential, and express our solidarity and genuine concern with others who need our support the most.
- Fear of the unknown will cause us to reevaluate relationships. The fear generated by this pandemic will impact all of us to some degree. Some of us may fear the potential health impacts, while others will also fear the financial and/or investment losses. As we all are impacted, it may be worth reevaluating our social connections and helping us to rediscover our communities as a new sources of strength, as the best antidote to our fears.
- Staying at home does not mean we have to be unhealthy. We don’t have to reduce ourselves to vegetative states. Actually, we can eat healthier (and more cheaply) at home than outside of our homes, we can also sleep that extra hour that was never available, exercise, and improve our lifestyles generally.
- We can use the extra time to reconnect with our inner selves, or our spiritual and religious beliefs, as most of us crave for meaning and purpose in our lives. Hopefully we will not succumb to binge watching Netflix…, enjoyable as it could be. I say this because it is my conviction that many of us desire, as Aristotle taught, “a life well lived”, which transcends ourselves by being part of something bigger, greater, and more perfect.
YES! Our lives have been disrupted, our world has been turned upside down, and it is likely that, in the wake of this pandemic, the world will not be the same ever again. I urge that we embrace this transformational opportunity proactively, and the net result will be healthier minds, bodies, and relationships.
Until our paths cross again amigos – Carlos B.
Note: Keeping a diary of our daily activities during this shelter–in–place order will keep us accountable of how we use our newfound daily free time.