What interesting times!

I imagine you are, as I am, being bombarded with helpful information about COVID-19, receiving offers to gather online or do virtual workouts with others, and perhaps several opportunistic sales advertisements. I won’t add to that.

I don’t like adding to the noise, yet I feel the call from some of my tribe (you) who read this blog and appreciate hearing from me. So will offer a first glimpse of what I am thinking and how I am handling my little part of this global experience. 

 

A Mix Of Feelings

First, I feel a quite a novel mix of feelings…

I feel great concern for my family and community, which is quite natural. My wife is a vital health care professional so her work is secure, but she is also extremely vulnerable to catching illness in her work setting. We feel young and healthy and robust, but cognitively, I realize the danger this virus has for any person, regardless, and the freaky invisible danger of passing it to others who could be killed by it.

I feel some trepidation that a great portion of my business is shut down indefinitely and a vital portion of our income is cut off. If my wife gets ill… we are extremely vulnerable to financial catastrophe ourselves. Who knows what kind of remedies our governments will come up with? I do find some comfort in knowing my whole community is in this together. The crisis is big enough that we all swim or sink together, to some degree.

On the other hand, my academic mind is intrigued by the intricacies of the entire global situation on every level – it is a convergence of so many scientific, sociological, cultural, economic and existential concepts that my geeky brain is amazed at what we have the unique opportunity to observe, experience and study in real life. I have so many observations, thoughts and questions. Oh, I wish I had gone into epidemiology 25 years ago…

And, I am keeping a real, but adventuresome tone in our household. We are currently well, we have a lot to be thankful for, we have some supplies, we are connected to caring family, and we are a very resourceful family, culture and species.

 

Attitude About Change

In general, I am wired to experience change as positive and interesting, something to be sought out (as opposed to those who general feel change as negative and frightening, something to be avoided). I am on the high side of moderate on the ‘dispositional optimism’ scale. I have a strong realism streak – a deep part of me is always braced for some inevitable obstacle or hardship or disappointment. I expect things to generally end up better in the end, I believe we can find ways to work around obstacles, but I do not expect exceptionally wonderful outcomes and I definitely don’t expect things to come to us easily. In other words, I have real ‘hope’ as it is understood in psychological terms. (I will write more about that in later posts).

On one hand, like everyone, I am frustrated by the disruption of normal life and routines. Objects, systems, even humans, have inertia about their routines, and it is always stressful on an object or system or person to be forced to change away from those routines. So, every creature that has change imposed will feel stress, even if the change is in a good direction. It is normal to feel some measure of distress by the quickly changing circumstances and patterns in our daily lives and communities, even if it is not hitting one personally (yet).

But on the other hand, it is interesting that not many are meta-cognizant enough to realize that, next to bacteria, humans are the most amazingly adaptable creatures on the planet. That is perhaps our greatest evolutionary strength and the one that has made us the dominant creature on this planet… below bacteria. Despite the whining and complaining we are also so good at, humans do change quite well, and we even manage to survive some very wild stuff. If you need some inspiration right now, find books and movies on survival (and non-survival) themes, especially those based on true stories. Those are, by far, my favorite genre.

(Adrift, by Steven Callahan. This is one of my all-time favorite stories. It touches you on many levels.)

In short, we have the ability to change and reestablish efficient self-sustaining routines (homeostasis) under the most extreme conditions. You and I, humans, are the most amazingly robust and creative creatures. The fact that, after this many millions of years, we dominate this planet and every climate on it, and are moving into outerspace is the most prominent evidence. I don’t merely have faith, I have grounded confidence that humans are going to make it through this, and through the challenges that I also believe are going to come to our generation in the following decades with increasing frequency. That doesn’t mean everyone alive is going to experience nice outcomes, but as a species, humans will very likely keep going and stay on top (again, below bacteria) and the crises will be our opportunities to rise higher as much as they present the possibility of our downfall. (I acknowledge that it is an attempt to be transcendent to take comfort in the survival of my species, even if I might not be one who gets to enjoy one of those nice outcomes).

 

How We Are Adapting

On that great thought, I leave you with some practical examples:

It is a great thing to be versatile as an active person, to practice adaptability. In my own case, I consciously and actively maintain my body in such a way that I can immediately enjoy a wide range of human activities. I swim and run regularly, and do conditioning so that I have strength for the normal range of human movements and tasks. I can therefore walk/hike, climb trees, chop wood, lift boxes, wrestle with my boys, crawl on playground equipment, dig in the dirt, wash the car or crawl under it to fix something, push a heavy shopping cart, play futbol/soccer, throw balls around, help someone move heavy furniture, etc.

Now that I, like most others who depend on pools in pandemic affected areas, cannot access a swimming pool, I am going to emphasize running more, perhaps add jump-ropping, and do my home conditioning exercises regularly (I will share my routine in a later post). I am going to try to visit a (cold, murky) local local lake once a week to just keep my swimming neurons and muscles stimulated a bit – but I am going to have to jump back into cold shower conditioning to handle that. It won’t be easy, but I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again, especially with some purposeful motivation on board. 

With my boys at home from school indefinitely, I am keeping them inspired by realizing how much they could excel in fitness, knowledge and skill if they do some training and study each day (for futbol/soccer, music, art, math, science, history) and I can do some of this with them. Little chunks of focused practice, over consecutive days, for several weeks can be POWERFUL skill, fitness, and intelligence boosters. 

It is sad that we are cut off from doing many of the things we were pursuing just a few weeks ago. But, there is fortune in this also – this gives us the opportunity now to work on other things that we would not have otherwise.

 

Convert Time Into…

Many years ago, I responded to my daughters’ complaints of not having more money-making opportunities. I said, if you don’t have money, what do you have that can be converted into something else, that then can be converted into money later on? For example, you have an enormous amount of free time on your hands. You can convert that time into:

  • new or deeper friendships (spend time with good friends or make new ones)
  • new or deeper skills (practice your music or art or cooking or gardening)
  • new experiences (volunteer or hang out with people doing interesting or important work)
  • education and more information (study something interesting or important)
  • service (find people who need help and help them)

And what you gain in these will put you in a much stronger position to earn more money down the road.

Be of good hope, my friends.

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