March 20, 2020
As I sit here at my computer, drinking my coffee, I wonder what today might look like compared to a week ago. I'm consistently up between 4:45 and 5:30 every day-even weekends. I drink my coffee, engage in some devotionals, get some of my busy work done before I head off to the gym. Then it's home to shower and 100 mph for the remainder of the day: numerous stops, appointments, and face to face meetings are typical for me almost daily.
But today, it will be different. It will be different for everyone. Today I stay home unless I absolutely have to go out, and if I do go out, I am incredibly aware of how close I get to people, what I touch, what I don't touch, where I go, and so on. I live and work in a college town. Well, we used to be a college town filled with the buzz of students, faculty, and the necessary thousands of support staff who all call Blacksburg home. Usually, it's challenging to get a parking spot if I want to grab some Greene's for takeout in the evenings. On a typical day, I would have to make reservations to The Black Hen or Goucho's if my wife and I want dinner and a cocktail. I used to have to drive defensively because there are numerous crosswalks up and down Main Street, and if you aren't observant, someone will get hurt. I am a Realtor by trade, and I am also fortunate to be the chaplain for the VT baseball team. I miss my guys, by the way. That role requires that I be on campus almost daily, but now no one is there. The spring semester is over, and the baseball season has been canceled; the university is a literal ghost town.
This is the new normal, no one likes it, but it's where we are. I have my opinions about how slowly we reacted to this dreadful virus that we knew existed in December. How early response and preparation would have made a HUGE difference to the impact on both the financial markets and the lives of people being harmed by this. Of how releasing the full power of the military to coordinate, build, and manage is one of the biggest no-brainers, but that's not what this blog is about. Most states and local governments have put restrictions on what we can and cannot do as citizens. Some of you may be upset about this, but here are my thoughts. If we would use a spattering of common sense, which we all know isn't common, we could govern ourselves, and there would be no need for direction from government. Sadly, we've proven that we cannot do that and that we need oversight and mandates.
People are, to this day, carrying on as though the virus doesn't exist. They travel in groups, pay zero attention to cleanliness, and do it all on the reasoning of "I don't have any symptoms!" Watching just a bit of news would teach you that you don't have to be symptomatic to carry the virus and spread it to those of us who are trying our best to stay healthy. Therefore, the state and local government has to put bans in place and restrict our activities because we don't possess the ability of good common sense to act accordingly on our own.
So what does life look like for us moving forward? Who knows. What I do know is it will be unlike anything I have ever been privy to in my 45 years on this celestial ball. We have halted the economy by choice to prevent the further spread of the virus, so we possess the capacity to turn it back on when the coast is clear. However, in that time period, there will be a massive blow dealt to those in the service industry, supply chain industries, restaurants, hotels, travel, and on and on I could go.
Today, I reluctantly am going to close on a condo I bought downtown to use for Air BnB. Two weeks ago, I was excited about the purchase, but now it's just going to bleed cash. Everything has changed for everyone. This situation will have a trickle-up effect, and if we do not get this under control, we are in for a long and deep recession that could take years to recover from.
If this situation has taught us anything, and it should have, it has taught us that we are interconnected. What you do affects me and vice versa. This isn't anything new. We are just getting a front-row seat to the reality that has always been. You cannot live with only yourself in mind. What you do and what you say affects those around you. It's an immutable truth.
Hopefully, this "new normal" may teach us some things. It may instruct us to slow down and enjoy the pace. It can show us that there are varying levels of value that we place on "things" in our lives. Honestly, we could all use some introspection in that department. I believe with the right lenses on; we will clearly see that we may have neglected some important people and or things and have held in high esteem things that have no real value.
Let's allow this "new normal" to make us better in some way. Figure out how to give away something you have an abundance of to someone who needs it. Make a phone call to encourage a friend or relative, read a good book, allow the situation we are in to challenge you in some way to become more like the person you want to be. We will get through this. We will be back to the busyness that was the life we knew in the not-so-distant past, but if we don't learn something from this pandemic, I think we've missed an excellent opportunity to grow.
Be well, stay safe, please think about the vulnerable when you decide to go out in public. They need us to be on top of our game. Their lives depend on it!