– I’m an extremely fortunate person, having been born in Canada, bestowed with loving parents, opportunities, an extremely supportive wife with a solid job, sans children and a great deal of freedom. My path has been much smoother than most.
– There are now three time periods: Pre-COVID Era (PE); COVID Era (CE); Post-COVID Era (PC)
January 26, 2020. I boarded a flight in Singapore after celebrating Chinese New Year with my wife’s family and my parents who were visiting from Canada. What a time to get everyone together. But there was a new flu or virus revealing itself. For the first time we donned a mask and made the journey home to Bangkok. How rapidly it all changed in the following months. Thailand’s borders, and those around the world closed; our lives drastically altered.
So what to do? What should we do? What did you do? I know what I did.
There was a distinct decision. Laze the time away, lament job loss and wait for the next thing to materialize. Or ruminate, reflect, plan, dream, create, learn, curate and explore. The latter please. All the while pushing to be diligent, focused, purposeful and impactful. Yet at times feeling lethargic and unsure.
Days were varied. Some started with a bang. Plan in hand, max energy for the day ahead, highly focused and productive. Most were well-spent and satisfying on a variety of levels. This was lifestyle re-creation, upskilling, deepening knowledge, heightening awareness and imagining appealing paths forward. But then again, not every day was so.
There were unenergetic ones where sticking to ‘the plan’ certainly didn’t go as planned. Focus was lacking, distraction lurked and at one point something unpleasant sunk in. Adam Grant really hit the nail on the head with his Languishing piece in the New York Times. This was something I was feeling but couldn’t quite figure out or name for a while. Not nearly as severe as depression, but a funkier than typical funk manifested for a brief period one-year into the CE. No immediately clear path out illuminated. But by practicing the earlier-mentioned actions, realizing that this, like mastering something complicated, requires focus to be successfully navigated. And at times, giving myself a break and a ‘pass’ was the right prescription. Brightness and a map forward thankfully revealed itself after a couple murky weeks. Sails were once again filled. The voyage of personal growth and discovery was back on course.
The Social Effect
Now roughly 18-months into the CE and our evolving ‘new normal’ lives, where do we stand socially? We’ve been socially distanced, yet not so. Squirrelled away in our dwellings, occasionally ducking out for supplies, sealed-off from other humans. But a surprising plus has been the virtual connections with friends, mentors and family. In fact, we’re more connected than ever before in human history. The online interactions and reconnections with people I haven’t been in touch with for eons has been tremendous. I’ve enjoyed more meaningful, distanced contact during 1CE than in my entire life previously. And the Internet made these conversations free. They’ve just required intent and a bit of effort. This is an enriching habit I aim to keep practicing PC.
Not So Tough
Running water, electricity, closed sewage, Internet and an abundance of food. The basics are pretty much covered and then some. I appreciate this is due to fortunately being in the top 10% of the planet. The CE likely seems much tougher than it is to those as lucky and privileged as myself. We’ve had it so good for at least the last 50 years. No major armed conflict, and more importantly, no debilitating disease. Polio, smallpox, measles, have been taken care of long ago. Thank you science. Lifespan doubled in the last century. You’re welcome. It’s pretty easy to find things to complain about when you live in my privileged flip flops. We’ll get through this. There’s a new season of our favorite Netflix series soon on the way. We’ll make it. We just have to binge for a wee bit longer.
The Next Act
We can look back at the CE period with regret and a sense of loss on a multitude of levels. Or act on what we’ve been dealt, seize upon it and emerge improved. But we need to work on it. Yet unwind, recharge and recalibrate at the same time. Evolve with focused intent. Talk with friends, listen to mentors, look down dark alleyways and learn at every turn. Get to know yourself again, on a new, deeper level. Save money by not going out or entertaining. Develop a previously unimagined level of resilience and agility. Get on with it. And do some of it alone.
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude.” – Nikola Tesla
- Start walking
- Tackle that long-delayed project
- Improve your dwelling
- Ride a bike
- Ponder it all
- Travel locally
- Create the dream job
- Enjoy some downtime – but not for too long
- Get organized
- Be productive
- Get moving
- Make a plan
- Architect your next you
Reskill, adapt, create the new path, upskill, call your Mom and roll with the CE. There’s a whole lot of positives in all of this. We can winge from the couch as it all goes by or grab as many inopportune opportunities as possible. Seize them. I look forward to meeting the new improved you PC.
Motivating CE Books
Sticky CE Songs