flirting with nihilism


Two weeks into Texas's stay-at-home order, during a company-wide video chat, I told my co-workers that living in the time of coronovarius felt like the grieving process. At that point I was cycling through three of the five states of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. Despite my best efforts, depression eventually came into the mix and I have no doubt my old friend will visit again, and probably much sooner than I would like. The journey hasn't been the smoothest, but after six weeks or so, I finally touched the acceptance stage of grief. It may sound long overdue, but I took three years to accept what I was feeling after losing my parents, so this timeframe is much better in comparison.

When my office first shut its doors, I hoped the disruption would last only a couple of weeks. Now, at least in regard to this pandemic, I've dropped out of the prediction business. Even the experts have seen their best guesses miss too many marks. All models are wrong, but some are useful, as they say. It's clear that no one has the answers.

When will this end?

The short-term answer—when will most businesses reopen and allow people to return to work—depends on where you call home, as governments are taking varied approaches. The long-term answer—when will the world at large return to normal—is complicated and layered. A better question is, what will our new normal look like? And how much of the old normal will carry over? The Economist expects 90% of the old economy to stay in tact, but that 10% change will have dramatic consequences. Something like this pandemic—something that touches and disrupts the lives of so many so fast—will not quickly be forgotten just because government officials give their blessings for the world to reopen all its doors again. Some people are already facing significant economic and professional challenges, as the unemployment figures show, and may continue to do so even after things open up again. Families may be reshaped as reports of domestic and child abuse are rising and divorces may rise just as they did in China. Some entire industries will be reshaped, their reward for survival.

Those of us able to work from home have the luxury of other considerations. What trivialities from our old lives do we miss more than we ever could have expected? I, for one, never realized that my daily commute brought some benefits (such as time to reflect or decompress between work and home) despite its annoyances. What old necessities do we now realize were wastes? Though I know the importance of networking, I now have very little desire to waste time at industry events with people I don't enjoy spending time with. I have had a few exercises in re-aligning priorities and I doubt I'm alone in that regard. I'm lucky in that I have had some moments of clarity during my time at home.

I don't know what's ahead, but at least I will admit it, unlike so many armchair experts on TV or online. I can't do much of anything to affect the outcome. But I have accepted where we are in this moment, and I will work to accept what awaits us—whatever the hell that is.

#personal #coronavirus #covid #quarantine #stayathome #pandemic #acceptance

I've lived my whole life in the Sun Belt, so Earth's favorite star is no stranger to me. But only recently did I grow to appreciate the sun.

That appreciation likely grew out of the first week of Dallas County's stay-at-home order, when those first few days brought grey skies and the daily probability of rain, the constantly dreary forecast complementing the mood of catastrophe. I grew up an indoor kid and into an indoor adult, but due to the extended stay-at-home order, I've never spent so much time inside my home as I have during these last five weeks.

Until recently, I never particularly enjoyed the heat of the sun. But now I find myself looking for excuses to soak up some rays. I've learned to enjoy pulling weeds in the front yard if only for the opportunity to get some natural vitamin D. And sometimes I pull up a chair in the back yard and sit with a book or my Kindle and catch up on some reading in the sunlight.

I'm sure my opinion of the sun will change once summer rolls in, and if history is any indicator, this Texas spring will be short-lived and short-enjoyed. But I'll worry about that when the time comes. For now, I want to enjoy this gift of realization from social distancing.

#personal #quarantine #stayathome #coronavirus #covid19

If you've just woken from a coma and now find yourself unable to make sense of what's going on—or not going on—around you, let me give you a TL;DR explanation: The world's gone to shit in a relatively short amount of time. We all hope our current reality will be temporary, but there's no denying where we are in this moment.

Take a deep breath. Cry if you need to. One more deep breath.

Most of us now have plenty of time to contemplate our pre-quarantine lives. The weekday morning Starbucks runs. Picking up Papa John's simply because we don't feel like cooking on a Tuesday night. Going to a mall on a Sunday afternoon just to get out of the house.

Our first reaction is likely to miss such events. But as time goes on, we may ask how much we needed those comforts, especially the longer we go without them.

Some are making predictions for a post-quarantine world: fewer Starbucks runs, cooking at home more, and perhaps staying at home more in general. Such changes may help to lessen the shock if or when another pandemic strikes.

timelapse of people walking in a mallPhoto courtesy of Anna Dziubinska on

I'm interested to see how things will shake out once the world starts spinning again. What businesses will survive, and which will close their doors for good? So many on Twitter are calling for others to support local businesses as much as possible. Will this consciousness maintain once we've restored and resumed our busy lives? What will the political implications be? What government restrictions will be enacted or lifted? How will this pandemic shape the conversations around universal healthcare or Universal Basic Income? Will this be the event that reunites us and brings us all back to a sensible center? Will it make us appreciate those we had come to loathe, like our libtard neighbors or our Repubtard bosses?

So many questions. How long will we have to wait for answers? The only thing we can known for certain is that we will see consequences well beyond quarantine.

I spent the first few days of quarantine mourning the death of my routine. I'm still mourning.

2019 was basically my year of building routine. A whole year examining my habits and identifying my priorities and rearranging my day and eliminating wasted activities to make time for what truly matters. I spent the first quarter of 2020 improving what I'd built in 2019.

And then in March all of that came to a halt as a pandemic forced us to adjust to a new normal.

I don't miss my morning and afternoon commutes to and from the office, but I do miss the accompanying certainty of twice a day having at least 30 minutes to listen to music or podcasts or—as I had been practicing for a couple weeks before the call for social distancing—simply driving in silence and practicing mindfulness behind the wheel.

I miss the camaraderie with my co-workers. I miss our jokes and our banter.

I miss going somewhere else only to quickly tire of the place and return to the comforts of home. Though an introvert and a homebody, I was always comforted in knowing that the world was there, waiting for me to join whenever I was ready.

Before the order for social distancing, I saw routine as a necessity. But now I see that in some ways routine is a privilege. After all, to establish a routine is to assume that catastrophe will not come along and disrupt said routine. It is to assume at least a semblance of stability, something we now see none of us can take for granted.

#personal #pandemic #coronavirus #COVID #socialdistancing #quarantine