When you just aren't sure what you can do anymore

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 1, 2020, 11:55 PM | comments: 0

The list of things that make life exhausting right now is fairly long. There is such an enormous range of things varying in terms of scope and control, and I can't remember any time in my life where it felt like so many of the things were beyond my control. Accepting the limitations of control is really difficult.

It's not all bad though, so let me start there. I realized I've been at my job now for over six months, emerging from the honeymoon phase. Not only have I not become less enthusiastic or cynical, but things have moved in the other direction. I was in a meeting today with some of my peers and all I could think about was how it was getting even better. I even felt it when talking about one of my team members moving to another team, because ultimately it's great for him and the company. Just to make sure this was real, I went through my entire resume, and I've only maintained that enthusiasm six months in twice before (Insurance.com and Microsoft, of course).

From there, things get more serious though. Diana is obviously out of work because live theater is a distant thing. Her new job is essentially teacher, because remote learning is ineffective for a kid with ASD and ADHD. She is left largely to her own experimentation to figure it out, regardless of the IEP in place. I guess you could say that things are "better" eight weeks in, only because total meltdowns only happen three times a week, and the other two days are just minor panics. It's not easy for me either because sometimes I'll be in a meeting, hearing what's going on, and want to intervene. And when I do, it rarely helps. The intensity of these bouts is unlike anything I've seen at any age previously. It's heartbreaking and exhausting for all of us.

Then there's the pandemic. The first problem is that there's no plan on how to emerge from it. Everyone from the federal government on down seems to believe that one day we'll have a vaccine, and the next day we'll all start licking doorknobs. Here in Florida, the governor has lifted most restrictions, even though we're still producing three times as many cases and deaths as we were in May. And all of that aside, we know way more than we did then, that shutting things down isn't necessary as long as we follow the simple mitigation protocols. People don't, and so we can't consistently climb out of 1.0+ infection rates. 32 states on the rise. Look, I want people to live their lives, and they can, but only if we build the social contracts around masks and social distancing as a normal expectation, including around family. Then when vaccines are proven effective and widely distributed, we move toward sanity faster. Not being able to do anything about this is probably the most frustrating thing, and non-team players are particularly irritating.

We also have a fascist, racist in the white house who is trying very hard to undermine democracy and suggests maybe he should be president for another dozen years. That by itself wouldn't be the worst thing, except there are people in power who agree with him, and a cult-like legion of followers who believe crazy shit like the existence of a Democratic cabal of pedophiles who drink blood. Countless white people are complicit in believing that systemic racism is a myth. Sure, the orange one only has a one-in-five chance of winning, but he hit the one-in-four chance last time.

I can't feel good about raising a child in a world where people dispute observable facts and are so hell bent on hating and oppressing other people. But it's exhausting to think about it constantly, and figure out what you can do to change it. I've never donated as much as I have this year, and it's mostly been to human and civil rights organizations. It doesn't feel like I can do anything else that has any measurable impact. That's probably because I foolishly believe that I can talk people out of the cult, and you know how that ends every time.

And then this week we got a pretty solid view of how the attractions industry is doing, and it's not good. Cedar Fair saw attendance down 90% in the quarter compared to last year. Disney let go of 28,000 people in the US parks, and the cuts went deep into people with decades of time at the company. This is all while the supporting hospitality industry in the area is similarly in free fall, and people are living in abandoned hotels without power in Osceola County. Tens of thousands of people in the metro can't find work, because the jobs they had don't exist.

It's a pretty dark time for a lot of people. You want to help, but you have days where you don't feel like you can help yourself. Even when work is good it takes a lot out of me, and then when I follow that up with parenting struggles that are unlike anything I expected, I get to the weekend and don't want to even get out of bed. And I'm tired of people trying to rank everyone else's struggle. We'd all be better off if we gave each other a little grace right now.


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