A World Wide Timeout: Five Lessons the Coronavirus is Teaching Me

“Shelter-in-place” feels like a virus imposed timeout. The whole world is essentially being told “go to your room”. Although it has been implemented to help curb the spread of the virus, a timeout can be good for reflection. It gives us a moment to evaluate and take stock of the situation. It helps us slow down. It provides an opportunity for us to think about our behavior and maybe make some changes.

Since I am a curious person, I’ve decided to use this timeout to think about what the virus is teaching me. Here’s a few things I have learned:

  • We are all connected
    Seeing how fast the virus spread over the entire world sheds a strong light on how connected we all are. And since we are so connected, it has become apparent how our actions can have far reaching consequences. With that knowledge, we can begin to see how every good and kind action has the potential to spread and affect the collective in positive ways.
  • We are all in this together
    Everyone has been affected by this virus, either from the illness itself or by the efforts to slow its spread. The fallout has been enormous. Graduations and weddings have been postponed or cancelled. The stock market is taking a crazy roller coaster ride. Our collective social life has taken a huge hit with bars, restaurants and sporting events all shut down. Even the Olympics have been postponed. No one is immune to the virus or its effects. We are all feeling the pain in some way.
  • Social distancing sucks
    I read a meme that said what an odd time we are living in when to avoid visiting our parents and friends is considered an act of love. Social distancing is hard. My personal space bubble is so much smaller than 6 feet. It takes awareness to stop and not move closer. It goes against my instinct. At this point in time, what I want to give and receive most is a hug–something I cannot do. Social distancing has reinforced how vital human contact is to my well being.
  • Obstacles can inspire creativity
    This virus has presented us with many challenges and placed many obstacles in our path. It is encouraging to see businesses and groups coming up with a variety of creative ways to meet the challenge. Many sit-down restaurants and businesses are now offering take-out, curbside pick-up and delivery. Yoga studios are offering virtual yoga sessions. Friends are having zoom dinners and cocktail hours together. Colleges are offering virtual tours. We are finding creative ways around the obstacles this virus has produced.
  • What really matters
    With the current state of store shelves, I could joke and say what really matters appears to be toilet paper, rice and puzzles. But what I have noticed are signs of how much the people in our lives matter to us. During this time of physical disconnection, the value of staying emotionally connected has risen. We are finding ways to show how much we care for each other. People are checking in more often with friends, family and neighbors. We are buying groceries for those who are quarantined. Others are making home-made face masks to donate. Families are creating new systems for everyone to help manage household tasks. The care and concern we have for one another is bubbling up and growing.

What I know for sure is that although this virus is tough, we are tougher. We are resilient. We are creative and resourceful. We are kind and generous. The virus may separate us physically but it cannot separate us emotionally.

The other day, my Dove chocolate wrapper had this message from Grace V. of Ohio,

“After every storm, there is a rainbow no matter how long it takes to show up.”

It may seem far away, but one day, we will be on the other side of the devastating and destructive storm this virus has caused. When the timeout is over and the rainbow arrives, a new normal will be in place. I hope the best of what we have learned will linger.

What are you learning during this virus imposed timeout? I welcome your thoughts and insights.

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