If I hear the phrase ‘challenging times’ one more time, I will scream. Every commercial, every email, every everything uses that phrase. But let me tell you, these are more than just challenging times. These times are transformative.
I started this blog during the darkest days of my life. I vowed that I would write funny things and tell stories that would make people laugh. At the very least, I would offer something positive for my readers. That’s tough these days because here we are, experiencing ‘challenging times.’ I really had to think about this. How am I supposed to put a positive spin on something as deadly and life-altering as this virus can be? Yet, in no apparent order, I see a few bright spots:
People are being nicer to each other. For years I’ve said that the only way humans would ever stop killing each other would be to have a common enemy. I used to joke that when aliens arrived to conquer us, we will rise as one. We have a common enemy now, that’s for sure. On a smaller scale, people are showing kind gestures, both great and small. There’s more more motivation to help each other and more appreciation and recognition for the people who do.
We are more cognizant of unsung heroes. There are a lot of people out there who contribute to our wellbeing. There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe the dedication and and humanity of these remarkable beings. EMTs, trash collectors, doctors, janitors, police, cashiers, shelf-stockers, cooks, nurses, fire fighters, scientists, mail carriers, toll-takers, pharmacists, and every last person who works in a hospital…this is a very abbreviated list of the people who are putting their lives in danger so that we will have a better chance of keeping ours.
Science and data are getting the respect they deserve. If you ever told me that the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would be a rock star in my eyes, those eyes would have rolled. Dr. Anthony Fauci, and his unyielding dedication to science while being thrust into the political arena, is saving us. Tens of thousands of us, if not more. If the politicians stop listening to the doctors and scientists, we will be well and truly….in ‘challenging times.’
We aren’t taking as much for granted. Kids miss school. Those are three words I never thought I’d type in that particular order. Who would have guessed? Where someone might have groused about their job a few months ago, now they are very thankful if they still have it. The things we thought would always be there have slipped away for many people. Loss is everywhere and those things we do have are appreciated that much more.
Corporations are stepping up. I got an email from my auto insurance carrier. After assuring me that they are here for me during these ‘challenging times,’ they actually announced that they will be taking 15% off my bill for the next two months because we won’t be driving as much. Grocers and other essential businesses are giving their employees what amounts to combat pay. GM is making ventilators, streaming services are offering free content, oodles of companies are contributing to COVID-19 causes…and my insurance company is giving me 15% off! Sorry, I had to repeat that last bit as a reality check because it still doesn’t seem possible.
Families are closer. This can be a two-edged sword, but I would bet that most families are very happy to be stuck with each other at home. I’m sure there are rough spots. There have been times over the past few weeks where I have wanted to kill Bill, but then I think about the fact that there is something out there that could do exactly that. My murderous inclinations are quickly squelched and I end up giving him a hug instead.
Personal health is taking on more importance. Hopefully, each of us will try to improve our health overall. The words ‘underlying conditions’ put fear in the hearts of many these days, and rightfully so. This virus is culling the weakest among us. Let’s be strong!
Healthcare, insurance, and prescriptions are getting a lot of scrutiny. We, in the US, have a long way to go before we have a healthcare system that works. The conversation around these issues started long before the virus hit, but now it is gaining momentum. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Relationships are being rekindled. I’ve heard from friends recently whom I haven’t spoken to in ages. An event of this magnitude has a tendency to make us think about those we love, and have loved.
We are being more adaptive. We are finding ways to accomplish things even if we can’t be there in person. Working from home is just one way in which we do that. Churches are holding virtual services. Netflix has a feature that lets people watch a movie together even if they are on separate continents. You can listen to your favorite singer perform from their living room. The list of ways we have come together while apart is endless.
Virtual medical appointments through TeleHealth. Through necessity, bringing this technology online widespread will change how medicine is practiced going forward. Now that my technophobic psychologist has learned how to do remote sessions, I will never have to drive an hour to see him ever again. It must have been a Herculean task for him to learn how to do it. After all, he gave up his flip phone only a couple of months ago. No lie. If he can adapt to the new virtual world, there is hope for all of us.
Customs will change. There is no question that life as we have known it is gone forever. Just as airports changed policies after 911, hopefully we will adapt in ways that will promote good health. Handshakes will probably go by the wayside. Masks will be more prevalent. We will be more cognizant of personal space. We will keep a month’s worth of toilet paper on hand. That last one is particularly important!
On a grander scale, one other thing has become clear. When we curtail our activities, pollution is reduced dramatically. Isn’t it ironic that as many are struggling for their last breath, Mother Nature is taking her first breath of fresh air in many, many years.