After a busy year marked by ups and downs (to put it lightly), I spent the winter at a friend’s summer cottage, which she generously hoped would inspire me to do some great things. And it did. I reveled and toiled through a major overhaul of my book project, creating a much richer and deeper story. I grieved over the earlier loss of my father, which I’d numbly put on a back burner to focus on planning a cross-country trip with my son. And I sifted through a mountain of questions and ideas about myself and my life that has been like Fibber McGee’s closet on steroids.
And from all this work, empowered and invigorated by new clarity, I charted the course for the next act of my life. I was psyched. Pumped. Raring to go with task lists and contacts and multiple pathways to attain the career and life satisfaction that have eluded me for too many years.
I was Usain Bolt in the starting blocks, ready to blast off on this new exciting journey that I’d crafted so carefully.
But instead of hearing the crack of a pistol to launch my race to greatness, a spiky beach ball named Corona rolled onto the track. And everything stopped. Talk about the ultimate WTF moment.
Like virtually everyone else, I was in shock for long while. It was sad and scary and unsettling and frustrating. For a couple weeks I mostly listened to Christmas songs on Pandora because they made me feel... happy? Comforted? Nostalgic? Who knows. Life just seemed surreal and nothing made sense. Thankfully I was spared any tragic losses or close connection with illness, though there were some people on the fringes of my life who died from the disease. The whole thing, from the virus itself to the country’s response, is fucked up – there’s no other way to put it.
As the covid-curve here in the Northeast started to flatten and the reality of a difficult and long-term “new normal” came to light, my distress over the pandemic began to step down. But it was replaced by a new angst over the master plan to reboot my life.
For a while I tumbled down the rabbit hole, thinking, “This is just my luck. I have the worst timing. Can I ever get a damn break?” I couldn’t even go to the gym to lower my stress and silence the dark voices. And, unsurprisingly, inhaling carbs in every form didn’t help either.
And then it dawned on me... as many people have said, the pandemic is a wake-up call from the universe that will change everything. It’s a giant reset button. We... the world... cannot go back to living and acting and thinking in the ways that we have been. If our collective response to this global challenge is to keep doing the same old, same old... then the world will blow it. The profound opportunity that can be realized from this crisis will be squandered.
The world after Corona is entering its next act. And my mission when I crouched in that starting block in early March was to create the next act of my life.
In a way, it’s perfect timing. I would certainly have preferred that the crisis and losses had not occurred, but this is the particular moment that we now face in the long arc of history. The ideas and values and goals I set out for my next act are focused on humanism, connection, healing, and similar themes. Concepts that people have needed for so long -- and which are even more necessary today and will serve us well in the world’s next act.
So like the proverbial phoenix, I’m rising from the ashes of corona. I’m probably not flying too high after weeks of comfort food pies and cookies and carbo-crap... but I’m feeling just as energized and hopeful as before.
As a friend once told me, “When life kicks you in the ass, kick back harder.” Like Usain Bolt, my kick is gonna propel me far and fast!