Nearly eight weeks since I’ve seen my students in the classroom.
Nearly eight weeks since I’ve had a social interaction with someone.
Nearly eight weeks and who knows when we will be able to sit down and have dinner with people we love who don’t live with us.
Or grab a cocktail anywhere but in front of a computer screen.
Or give someone a hug and a kiss (other than my wife, of course).
Or take a subway.
Or go to a movie.
Or not have wipe down our groceries.
Or do anything and feel safe again.
I think that’s the hardest part about the new new normal. What it is, nobody knows yet. Because what’s next, no one’s really sure.
When you think about the Coronavirus and the current lockdown in New York state, you’re consumed by this bleak feeling. Why get out of bed? Why take a shower? Why put pants on? Why push through work? Why do much of anything at all besides curl up on the chase lounge and stare at the television?
And it’s easy to feel that way since there really is nothing to look forward to in the immediate. By that, I mean nearly every social engagement for at least the next six months has been canceled (unless you’re in a state with a governor who does not understand statistics or expert advice or facts). You’re likely not going on a vacation unless it’s in a car and then what? You get there and have to quarantine for two weeks – yeah, sure.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been fighting with myself over that purposeless, hopeless feeling. It’s been a long time since I felt that way – probably since junior year at Fairfield. And those were dark days.
I started climbing out of that hole when I started talking candidly about how I was feeling, which in truth, isn’t always easy for me. I talked to my wife, my parents, my colleagues, my friends, and even my writing partner, Foday Samateh.
And I think those conversations really grounded me. They put this self-isolation in perspective – not in the sense of others have it much worse than you do, because while that’s true, that doesn’t necessarily give you hope.
No, what those conversations did remind me of was that I can make the most of this. I can set goals for myself, work on projects, do what I can do in this situation instead of dwelling on what I can’t.
You have to get there first, though, struggling with how life was and how it is now before you come to this realization: while Pandora’s Box might be open unleashing all the ugliness, there’s still hope somewhere in that box too.
Keep it alive by making that phone call, writing that letter, sending that text or email, saying hey in person from a social distance, cheering on essential workers, making a donation or helping out a charity – anything to improve someone’s life.
Challenge yourself to be better than you were before even if you might not have a reason to do it.
If anything else, this is an opportunity to improve. You just have to stop fighting for what life used to be – what you still want it to be – so you can start to plan for what life will be whenever you can live it again.