Usually when there is a crisis or a tragedy we have our family and friends to pull us through. Today, in our giant company “Town Hall” Zoom meeting of 90 people, one of our employees broke down to tell us that last Thursday his father died (unrelated to COVID 19). He wept, and choked on tears to tell us that because of what is going on in the world today, and due to travel restrictions, he was not able to be by his father’s side. There was no ability to say his goodbyes in person, or sit by his father’s side in his last moments. No. Instead, he was isolated to deal with his emotions in an apartment of solitude. There were no family or friend visits to comfort him. There was no shoulder to cry on, and there was no warm embrace to help ease the pain. He took 2 days off, and then got back to working from home because...what the hell else is he supposed to do?
In our almost 100 person Zoom meeting, you could see the grid of faces crying or fighting back tears. You could see the loneliness and desperation for comfort in this employee’s face. After he gave the news, he finished the announcement with a declaration of how he appreciated every single one of us. He called us his extended family and expressed how seeing all of our faces has been a source of comfort to him in a very isolated world.
And there you have it, folks. We are living in this weird limbo between being isolated from physical human connection and having the best technology to accommodate all of this social distancing. We couldn’t have picked a better time to be in a pandemic, really. But as our death toll in our country continues to rise, we are being forced further and further into our safe but lonely bubbles. The longer this pandemic continues, the more we will start to feel the impact. I, for one, felt relatively unimpacted until recently. I found out my cousin's husband in the Philippines had it, but is now recovering. He is a doctor and thankfully has been sent home from the hospital to finally start recovering in the comfort of his own home, albeit isolated from the rest of his family.
How are we managing over here? Well, our household has been incredibly diligent with making sure to stop any and all possible infection. My mom, who has fought and beat cancer 4 times, would probably have a hell of a time battling COVID 19. Before the mass hysteria and panic buying I was able to order a ton of Isopropyl alcohol (32 oz worth) and some tiny spray bottles in order to create our own travel disinfectant sprays. I carry it in my purse and spray my hands constantly and on every surface I come across. As one of my staff remarked when I told him, “my boss stays strapped in the streets!” (Admittedly, I do feel like some sort of badass to have this alcohol spray - like a sheriff ready for a quick draw of the gun.) In addition to the travel sprays, we have multiple spray bottles around the house with disinfectant cleaner. We spray the bottoms of our shoes and everything we bring home from the store. We now remove things from their outside packaging before stocking in the pantry. Kyle doesn’t come into the house when we do kid pick ups and drop offs now, just to be extra safe.
Speaking of the kids, they have been really great. Every weekday morning they do their assigned school work without me having to ask. They do the usual toggling between different electronics, artwork, and hide and seek. I introduced them to Zoom and now they have daily meetings with their cousin, Sophia. They have Zoom meetings for class, and Lucy has virtual hula lessons. Now that my lifestyle has changed, my expenses for commuting and coffee shops have translated into a budget for Legos and art supplies. I am more than okay with this. Since I can’t devote all of my day to the kids since I’m (thankfully) still busy at work, my parents have taken it upon themselves to do some vocational training with the kids. My mom is teaching Lucy to sew, and is also teaching both kids some Tagalog. The kids are also using Duolingo - Lucy to learn Spanish and Jackson to learn Vietnamese (there’s an exchange student in his class). My dad is letting Jackson use one of his really nice cameras to practice photography and editing. He’s also ordered a globe to start giving them geography lessons. Yes, it takes a village.
As I mentioned, work has been busy still and I feel very grateful for that. I know many people living in a state of uncertainty when it comes to their job. At the start of this shelter in place, I was really struggling to segment my day so that I wasn’t caught working 12 hour days. I was still waking up early out of habit, and then not finishing until 7 pm. While I don’t have a ton of free time during the week to pick up on any new and exciting projects (or any old ones for that matter), I have been making more intentional time for meditating, working out, and reading. That’s it. When the sun is out I make sure to sit on the patio to read or just lay in the sun. Sometimes I’ll lay with Lucy in her fort to take a 5-10 minute break and pretend to listen to her when she talks to me (just kidding). Every 1-2 hours I check on the kids to see how they’re doing and give them a hug and kiss. Before all this, walking into Jackson’s room to find him staring at a screen 3 hours later would have pissed me off. But not anymore. Times have changed and so must I. The extra time spent with the kids has not driven me to insanity yet; just feeling grateful to be near them at a time like this.
The title of this blog post was a quote that actually inspired me. Over the weekend, Cody and I watched Mr. & Mrs.Smith and the most unlikeliest of sources gave me inspiration. Brad Pitt, racing home to eventually beat the shit out of his wife, says over the phone, “I guess that’s what happens in the end, you start to think about the beginning.” And I thought, God damn it...ain’t that the truth. I know the context is different but it still applies. When things that matter to us start to go bad, we want to hold onto whatever positive thought or experience we can. We want to believe that there is something still good there; something worth fighting for. Well, at least I do. And in our current socio-economic climate I am trying really hard to find as many positives in this whole experience as I can. This isn’t the end, but I’m trying to be more mindful of where I’m focusing my energy and time. Because god forbid the end is near, I don’t want a recall in memory that showed I focused my energy and time on things that served no real purpose in my well being, the kids being included in this.
I am exhausted and overly saturated with bipartisan politics and COVID-19 exposure. The numbers are going up, that’s all I need to know. The only things that matter to me right now is making sure my family and Cody are healthy, my mental and physical health are tended to, my kids feel safe and loved, and my friends feel supported from a distance. When this is all over, I feel confident that many things that were taken for granted before will be held at a higher regard. I also think that many things we put onto a pedestal will now be dismissed as unnecessary. We are realizing the things we can and cannot live without and that is different for everyone - while some see the gym is superfluous, others believe the gym to be their church. Life is fleeting, material and extravagant things come and go, etc. etc. Where we choose to put our focus is individualistic. It’s not up to anyone else to decide but you. I have some friends who are struggling to find motivation to do anything. That’s okay. I have friends who are seizing the opportunity to do everything. That’s okay. I saw a meme about how this shelter-in-place is basically like being at the airport - no rules apply. If you want to eat macaroni and cheese at 2 am and wake up at 1 pm only to watch Netflix for 5 hours then okay. And yes, that’s pretty much how it is now and it’s perfectly acceptable.
Doing nothing right now is not lazy and doing ‘all the things’ isn’t an overzealous flex on the rest of the internet community - it’s basically our own way of surviving this chaos anyway that we can. At a certain point, we’re all going to have to adapt to the new normal that is our current state and the new normal that will take place 6 months from now. And when society as a whole has finally arrived at its new equilibrium, I hope that this wasn’t all in vain and we are all better for it.