40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: Finding Peace In A CoronaVirus World
Recently my wife told me “we should have something to document this time in our lives”. It was at that moment that I haha revealed that I had been planning to do just that. As of early March, I knew that what was going on in the world was a big deal, but by the middle of the month, so much had already happened to me personally that I only knew of one way to deal with it: write a new blog post. Believe it or not, despite how much our lives have slowed down, it took me this long to accomplish my goal of getting the story on virtual paper.
First of all, at this point in the CoronaVirus era, for as much as has happened to all of us already, it still appears to only be the beginning. Yet, there is so much to tell. I am not one of the 96 percent of Americans who are working from home, but I’m also not one of the 22 million plus who are on unemployment. I am an essential employee who works at a major broadcast company. I am one of the technicians who are helping to keep the world happy, entertained, and informed while they are dealing with the same horrible reality I am: a global pandemic that has changed the world we once knew.
As a contract employee at a company who works with many sports leagues, news organizations, and entertainers we all know and love, I was a witness to (and somewhat of a participant) during that fateful week back in March when everything shutdown/suspended itself. One by one the calls came in. Schedule changes, live press conferences, phones flooded with calls for the team I work with to make indefinite changes and suspend operations. It was fast, stressful, and completely surreal. It induced anxiety, anger, confusion, frustration, sadness and various other emotions that are impossible for anybody to deal with in such a short time. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.
Over the course of two work days I dealt with the aforementioned roller coaster of emotions all while trying to keep my head together at work. Frankly, it was almost impossible to do. Even in the moment, I couldn’t believe I had kept it all together. Once everything finally settled down, I had to do a scary thing: deal with the fact that I was having trouble dealing with it all. Nothing I did seemed to help me deal with the craziness I had just been thrown into. If it were up to me, I think I had pretty much quarantined myself from life at that point. However, that wasn’t an option. As an essential employee, I had to figure it out. I had to dig deep. I had to find some way to get back being myself. I couldn’t continue to feel like an emotional train wreck.
Video games, sitting in silence, listening to Enya, running on the elliptical, cooking, and cleaning are some of the things I usually do to relieve stress. All of these things usually work…except in this case. By the time I woke up for my shift Saturday morning, I had no peace within me. Nobody is ever thrilled to wake up for work at 3am, but I usually handle it ok. On this day, the first thing I did was slam down my charger cable, and got out of bed. I was already done with the day before I had even got out of bed. It even caused me to wake up my wife who was obviously very concerned about my wellbeing. At that point, I felt completely mentally defeated.
I am not one to give up too easily. I had gotten to a point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I also knew I couldn’t keep going to work with an angry man mentality. I needed to figure it out and try to get back to being me. I had to find myself and get back to being me. I’m not always too sharp that early in the morning, but I did come up with a great idea. I decided to take out my frustrations on the punching bag I had bought my wife for Christmas. I figured this would either make me feel tired before I even hit the highway or it would be just what I needed.
Five minutes in front of the punching-bag was not only a turning point during this particular crisis, it also changed my life. I’ve always been one to prefer more peaceful methods to calm my emotions. I never once thought that letting my emotions out in that way would give me what I needed: a feeling of peace. As I swung one big punch after another I could feel it all come out. The anger, anxiety, frustration, depression, uncertainty, it all poured out. By the end of the brief session, my arms were shaking, but relaxed. I had broken through. I was much less angry mentally. I was ready to tackle the day. It was at that moment that I knew I could overcome the uncertainty ahead of me.
Life has become much simpler since the early days of the CoronaVirus pandemic. It has also complicated things too. So many questions, so few clear answers. The world is much more united, but much quieter. The world is a lot of things it was and wasn’t before the pandemic started. This is echoed in my day to day life.
Monotonous, repetitive, and boring are some of the words I would use to describe the past few months. The most important word of all, atleast to me, is depressing.
I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I consider myself a very resourceful person who can take care of themselves better than many. I don’t need much to get by in this world. However, with so much normalcy and fun taken out of our day to day lives, I find that the things we took for granted, but are now gone are missed severely. It takes the energy out of me just thinking about how monotonous and boring life has become. CoronaVirus news 24/7. Whether it’s a good or bad story, it almost doesn’t matter. It’s sad. This isn’t living. This no way to live life at all.
At this point, you see all of this stuff going on in the news. CoronaVirus has affected all of our lives in one way or another. Although I am an essential employee at my job, I pretty much steer clear of any situations where it could directly affect me. Or so I thought!
For almost two weeks now I have been on leave from work. I came down with a pretty bad fever a few weeks ago. Just the fact that I came down with anything pretty much put me on the sideline for awhile. Even a negative CoronaVirus test couldn’t bring me back. If I thought all of the exposure to news and work related obstacles was depressing, then becoming sick in the middle of this pandemic was pretty much the cherry on top of the crap cake that has been 2020 so far.
Let’s face it, everything could have turned out much worse for me than it did. After almost two weeks of rest and self reflection I can safely say, with a much clearer mind, that I am pretty fortunate to be where I am. While all of the initial stress was extremely overwhelming, I somehow found a way to overcome it all and get back to a good place spiritually. The health scare was a somewhat unexpected curveball. Especially considering how hard I worked to follow the stay at home protocols. Even as an essential employee I found that I have had very little contact with people. Perhaps the fever was more my body’s way of telling me it was time to rest. After all, I haven’t had much time off over the past several years.
I’ve learned a lot from this pandemic so far. I’ve learned that our world is vulnerable. As a species, we are not immune to being wiped out. I’ve also learned that we can still come together and unite as people. Although the reason in this case is sad, it is nice to see people come together again. We are also still very much divided politically. It almost seems like this will never change. Especially if we continue to be misguided by our leaders. Politics is a topic I tend to stay away from in my work, but I think it needs to be said. No matter what side of the fence you are on, I have to believe we can all agree on one thing: We can do better. A pandemic of this magnitude is no time to get on a political soapbox, but when I see so much news about politics getting tossed out there in the middle of all of this it just makes the situation more challenging for all of us. On top of everything else, it just depresses me.
Personally, I’ve learned that I still have a lot of work to do. By doing projects like this blog or my podcast, I can see that I’ve come a long way. I’m a much more mentally and spiritually healthy person than I was years ago. However, I can also see that I still have to work on myself. I’m sure nobody would blame me for some of the emotions I’ve gone through. I don’t think anybody is ever quite ready to deal with some of the stuff I’ve faced over the past few months. In some ways I’ve handled all of this quite well. In other ways, I wish I could be better. I wish I didn’t let all of the horrible news make me feel so down. I wish losing things like sports, entertainment, etc didn’t cause me to become so depressed. I feel like I need these things to keep my spirits up. However, as a person who always felt like they could easily shut off themselves off from the world and be content, I think it is great to know that I do need the social aspects of life. The things/activities themselves are an important part of life, but at the end of the day, we can probably live without them. What we can’t live without is the connection and experiences we have together. It was important for me to learn that. This pandemic has really helped me to see that. If I learn nothing else during the pandemic, I am atleast glad I learned this lesson.
Finding peace in the current state of the world is something I must work on. Not just for now, but for the future. The world we are currently living in is tough, but I think you can still find happiness. Sure, we are limited in where we can go and what we can do, but there are many ways we aren’t limited. We can still control our own happiness. Now more than ever I need to live up to my own selling point of being a resourceful person. When I have a terrible day, I need to punch that punching bag and let it out. When i feel lethargic, I need to pick myself off the couch and go run on the elliptical. When I feel inspired, I need to write and be creative. I need to remember that there is always something I can do about my current situation. Staying positive, being happy with what I have, and maintaining peace are essential.