We don’t like it. We find it unsettling. Anxiety-provoking. Nerve-wracking. Uncomfortable.
We like patterns. Patterns allow us to predict. To plan. To count on a range of outcomes.
Most of us alive now have never been here before. 1918 was the last time there was a global pandemic. We’re in new territory. As we’ve watched this virus spread across the globe, we’ve begun to formulate an idea of how things may go for us in our hometowns, our states, our country. But we can’t be certain how this will play out. There are lots of variables to factor into the equation. The size of our country, its diversity, its economy, its politics, and its values, all play a part.
Chances are it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We have not seen it “peak” yet. The coasts and densely populated areas seeming to be bearing the brunt. But don’t kid yourself; no place is safe. No place is a “better” place to be.
And now it’s coming down to a horrible dilemma. Do we save our economy by allowing everyone to go back to work, thus ensuring an acceleration in contagion and the possible demise of the economy anyway? Or do we stay at home for a more prolonged period of time and destroy the economy in the process but turn around the virus’s trajectory sooner, resulting in fewer deaths?
If we’re all dead, does the health of the economy even matter?
If the economy goes bust, and most of us don’t have jobs to feed our families or pay our rent, can we survive?
Lots of questions and no direct or simple answers. Normally, getting answers to troubling questions is how we resolve uncertainty. Hmmm.
There are no certainties in life (except for death and taxes). So to an extent we live with uncertainty under the best of circumstances. These are not the best of circumstances, so the level of uncertainty we’re having to sit with is exponentially higher than normal.
What do we do? Well, we begin by taking a really big collective breath. Do that with me right now. Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bullshit. We LIVE the Serenity Prayer. We acknowledge that the weird way we are all feeling is actually grief, grief over the loss of the lives, the routines, the social connectivity we used to have.
Maybe our lives will “get back to normal,” but maybe not. Maybe this is the beginning of our New Normal. Maybe, just maybe, it will lead to a better “normal” than the one we are already in the process of leaving behind.