Pandemic waiting when you're running out of time

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 30, 2020, 9:15 PM | comments: 0

There was an article in The New York Times today about how there's finally a lot of reason for optimism about the pandemic, provided you're willing to deal with a whole lot of death and packed hospitals in the near term. You know, because even the good news is bad in 2020.

It got me to thinking, what really causes me anxiety about the situation? I have a great job in a growing company, so I'm thankfully and gratefully relaxed in that sense. I'm frustrated that the amount of death is unnecessary, and frankly discouraged that the relatively well-understood math and science is still rejected by some people, which means even with vaccines it will take longer to get beyond the pandemic. But even that, I can largely let go of because there's so little that I can do about it. The thing that's really difficult for me, at the end of the day, is the waiting when I feel like I'm running out of time.

As I slide into midlife, I have all the things that usually come with it: Am I making the most of life? Am I happy? Am I going to leave the world better than I found it? What should I be doing to increase the odds that I'll live a little longer? Am I screwing up my kid? At this point in your life, you've spent a lot of time making mistakes, learning and figuring out how to navigate the planet. You hopefully start to develop some confidence that, believe it or not, you're battle-tested enough that you can move forward with more wins than losses. There's some urgency associated with this, for sure, because as I said before, you're now half-way between wearing diapers and wearing diapers again.

What's the enemy of urgency? Having to wait. The pandemic requires us to wait for a lot of things. Look, I'm not talking about this stupid YOLO thing where people insist you've just gotta "live your life anyway," or the BDE that dudes have proving how fearless they are against the virus. I haven't stopped living, nor am I living in fear, but I accept that it's just going to be awhile before I can go back to licking subway handles or jumping in a mosh pit. For us, it also means we're not traveling, at a time when we most desperately want to see more of the world. It means not having or going to epic parties to celebrate our friendships and relationships. It means I won't see the view from the company office up in One World Trade Center any time soon. It's not even a good idea to go hang out at my in-laws neighborhood pool near the gulf coast, for the sake of their health and our own. We just have to wait.

It all makes me wonder what will happen when, maybe in the summer, as we emerge from this fog, what people will do. People always declare changes and aspirations at the new year or their birthday, and never follow through since there's another one a year away. But what happens when you've been somewhat limited in what you can do for a year? Will people in general have a sense of urgency when they've had to wait? I imagine for a great many people, things are already urgent when unemployment is huge and the service industry is in shambles (our community in Central Florida is certainly feeling that). It seems critically important to help in any way we can.

I feel like I'm in a hurry and have to wait.


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