The military is a bastion of acronyms. One of them – VUCA – has been adopted by others, including business and medicine. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. It certainly applies to the turbulent times we are living in: facing an invisible enemy and an uncertain path forward.
Look back just a few months. We were so clueless and naive. Times have changed:
- Fear of infection and illness
- Erratic leadership
- Ever-changing information
- Social isolation
- New vocabulary: disease vectors, distancing, flattening…
For our own safety and that of others, crowds are a thing of the past. Lines form to enter grocery stores. Don’t carry your own potentially-contaminated shopping bags. Wear a mask to protect others. Shortages of cleaning and hygiene items. Rationing of meat and paper products. Remote work. Job losses. Video conferencing. Home schooling. WiFi and its limits. A rise in depression and anxiety. Economic instability. Death toll.
We are in the midst of a dystopian novel — except it’s non-fiction. COVID has caused CHAOS. It’s enough to make you want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head. “Wake me up when it’s over…” We’d love to return to our old comfortable life. My inclination (and maybe yours too) is to bang on the door that’s closed.
Instead, some friends are finding open windows. Recognizing that we can’t change the circumstances, figure out what we can modify. In some cases, it’s simply how we react to things we can’t control. Here are some Corona-inspired positive adaptations — silver linings. Susan’s goal sheet of “Corona Victories” lists things she’s accomplished or plans to do, while quarantining. The phrase “Corona Victories” inspired me and this post.
Trails less traveled:
Hiking has been a lifesaver during this time for Susan and her husband. A new habit is a daily walk, with a preference for forest over neighborhood. Choosing off-the-beaten-paths and less busy times limits encounters with others. Susan remarked: “The timing with the emergence of the ephemeral flora has been a big bonus for me. Never have I had so many opportunities to observe so many species in so many locations. Along the way we’ve gained stamina, endurance, and confidence. And lost a few pounds.” A page from her hiking log indicates that they’ve walked over 100 miles and counting… Others are also finding pleasure outdoors as my co-blogger wrote last week.
Kris and Mary Kay are keeping plague journals, a coronavirus “time capsule.” By documenting this time of uncertainty and change, they hope to make sense of what happened and how they responded. A treasure, now and forever. See their pieces at the end of the blog.
Schooling from home:
Susan has guided a research project with her grandson. Together they read “What Was Ellis Island?” Then, Kentland developed questions, interviewed his grandparents about their experiences immigrating to America from India, and wrote a paper. It was a win-win: Nana and Papa were delighted telling their story to their grandson and Kentland’s writing improved. It’s unlikely this would have transpired outside of stay-at-home schooling.
Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens
It’s easier to find silver linings when you have a comfortable home and enough food. Remember, some people are struggling with sickness or food and shelter insecurities. As you are able, reach out a helping hand.
Resilience is not only surviving, but thriving in times of crisis and stress. To grow, we must stretch ourselves. Perhaps, hiking brings pleasure. You may find peace and satisfaction chronicling the times. Maybe your idea of delight comes in the form of Zoom for gatherings or game nights. Or, completing house projects — finally, cross it off the to-do list. Look beyond the circumstances you can’t change. Seek and see silver linings. Find joy. Count your blessings. Share your story!
Thanks to Susan Boling, Kris Casey, and Mary Kay Schoen for their insights and willingness to share.
© Joan S Grey, 29 MAY 2020 ∞
IndexCardCure™: Corona won’t defeat us
Kris Casey’s Plague Journal, Day 71, May 29, 2020
Sitting with the questions.
How do we humans get to this point, time after time, person after person, murder after genocides? How does the reptilian brain stem of a cop get so incited as to stay in the passion of hatred and denial of the other’s humanity long enough to kneel on a man’s neck for six minutes, killing him beneath the weight of his own body? How does he not see the miracle of all created world, or at least of all the humans sharing our piece of earth, or at the very least, of George Floyd begging for air beneath his foot? How does he miss the ugliness of that foot and that position of dominance? How do people who have sensed the presence of that foot on their necks not rise up in anger fanned into flames?
How does the experience of COVID-19 not find us in solidarity of purpose to preserve life, to wear a mask to protect the other one that crosses my path? In fear and lack of power does the mask-hater desperately need to feel power over life and death. In a cry of denial, does the mask-hater assert the right to be free and not be responsible, blamed, scapegoated? Do we desperately need something we can control? Do we desperately need an outlet for anxiety, fear, and powerlessness? Do we need everything to be normal. ….. The old normal that seems to kept these hard realities at bay?
How am I dealing with my anxiety and loss of control of my life? Where am I blaming and fanning embers of fire that destroy love, harmony and peace? Why do I sit in lethargy rather than engage in some vigorous exercise that has always lifted my energy and spirits? Why do I eat “comfort foods” that bring no comfort, only guilt and a pudgy waist. Why is it that in facing the uncontrollable outer world of the virus, I do not exert control over disciplines and practices that are under my control? Or am I mostly unaffected and accepting of the huge challenges throughout life on this planet?
Mary Kay Schoen’s reflection from March 25, 2020
This isn’t happening.
The people in the grocery line are not eyeing each other sideways. The schools—all of them—are not closed until who knows. Everybody’s dad is not home from work in the middle of the day, walking the kids or the dog.
Out the living room window, through the delicate lace of cherry blossoms, our street looks ordinary. A killer is not stalking our neighborhood, trying doorknobs, looking for some vulnerable victim.
We are just hunkering down for the common good. We are not afraid to visit our grandkids—or vice-versa. Mostly, we are not elderly. For God’s sake, no. Old, maybe.
The weirdness sets in at night, after the new ritual of the evening news hour. It must have felt kind of like this in London during the blitz. (But they had Churchill. We have Trump.) We could all die this month. Anyone could. Of course, that’s always been true—but rather less likely.
It’s not that we’re living on the edge. It’s that we suddenly know that we’re living on the edge. And we’re starting to creep out all together and peer over the precipice.