I know a lot of your anxiety levels are spiking through the roof right now. Mine certainly are. The combination of the unknown of this disease, the radical altering of our day to day lives, the stock market plunging, and a dysfunctional federal government has us all nervous and concerned. And rightfully so! But believe it or not there are a few silver linings here:
- All Hands on Deck. We have the smartest people on the planet working on this not just here but all over the world, sharing their information with each other, working nonstop to find a cure. And they’re making progress. “I’m very hopeful and very positive. We’ll get through this,” said Robert Kruse, a doctor in the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In December of 2019, we first found out about this disease. By January 9th, the genome had been sequenced. The first vaccines are being tested today, just two months later. The disease is moving fast. So is human ingenuity.
- Look for the Helpers. Mr. Rogers famously said something that will forever stay with me: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” There are no doctors or nurses who are going to stand down in the face of this. None! We’re seeing doctors, young doctors, die in other countries while treating this virus. And yet our doctors and nurses, the ones we see regularly in our bars and restaurants without a second glance, are preparing to face a challenge unlike any they’ve ever faced. These heroes (real heroes, not the ones we’ve so lazily attached that tag to) are about to go into battle, with the goal of helping their fellow man. They won’t care what race their patients are, what age they are, what politics they are. They are going to risk their lives to save them. Period. The coronavirus is coming. So are the helpers.
- Ordinary People Will Become Extraordinary. Ulysses S. Grant was working at a leather store, trying to pay off family debt, when the Civil War broke out. Rosa Parks was a seamstress at a department store when a bus driver told her to give up her seat. Martin Luther King was a little known minister when, in response, he organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Those people didn’t become heroes because they did convenient things during easy times. They are our heroes because they made hard decisions during very dark times. New heroes will emerge here. From this situation we will see people who will fulfill a great destiny they would not have fulfilled otherwise.
- Economy Can (Hopefully) Handle It. A few days ago, I googled to see what Warren Buffett was saying in the light of this pandemic. He said that the 2008 financial crisis “was much more scary, by far, than anything that happened [this week].” I have very little money in the stock market, but I realize its importance to our economy, and what it’s health says about business in America in the long term. Even with things plunging, I have to admit that hearing Buffett not too shaken up made me feel better. It’s like looking at the flight attendants when the plane hits turbulence. If they’re calm, I will be too.
- The Law of Familiarity. We did a podcast episode a while back with a man who was just absolutely fascinating. His name was Maleek Jackson, he had spent hard time in prison, gotten out, and dedicated himself to being a physical trainer. He talked about a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot every since: “The law of familiarity. It states that you appreciate something when you first get it, and then it becomes old to you. So, you only re-appreciate it when you lose it…you don’t appreciate good health until you get sick.” Without taking “good health until you get sick” too literally, I think about it more like this: How much more will we appreciate Opening Day whenever it finally gets here? How much more will we appreciate our next concert? How much will we appreciate just hanging out with our friends without this crippling anxiety coursing through our minds? We are going to experience all of those things all over again for the first time. It’s going to be amazing.
- We’re Finally Sacrificing for the Greater Good. I’m 45 years old. I’ve never sacrificed anything for my country. I hate to say that but it’s true. Now I will have no choice. I will be sacrificing my livelihood, and to some extent my freedom, for at least the next few weeks to help out fellow countrymen that I’ll never meet. It is a hell of a sacrifice we’re all making, and it’s one that we should honor, respect, and give ourselves credit for.
- We’re Going to Recalibrate Our Lives. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m thinking about things on a much different scale than I was two weeks ago. I’m thinking about my priorities: my family, my work, my friends. Politics means a lot less than it did two weeks ago. Friendship means a lot more. I’ve had several friends check in on me in the past few days because they know if I don’t work I don’t get paid (I think I’m going to be OK, but I can’t overstate how much I appreciate the gesture). That’s love, and it’s not attached to a paycheck or to social status or anything other nonsense. I’d encourage anyone reading this to do the following: get out of your own head for a few moments and think about a friend of yours that’s got reason to be stressing out even more than you are. “Where do I take the kids when schools close and I have to work? What am I going to do without a paycheck? How am I going to communicate with my mother, who’s in a nursing home?” Shoot them a line on social media. A simple “How you holding up?” is going to make the both of you feel worlds better.
My goal here is not to give anyone false hope or paint a rosy picture. I know there are a lot of people who are suffering already, and that will only increase with each day this goes on. We are going to go through a very tough time here. This is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, and is truly beyond our comprehension. My only goal is to remind you that not all of it a disaster. Let’s not forget that even in a time of darkness, there are still a few rays of light.