Being Social From a Distance

April 25, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Star date 4.25.20 2:58pm EST for what seems like day five billion of quarantine/lock down. In reality, it is only around day 41 for most here in the United States.

How are you holding up? Where are you in the world? What did you do before quarantine? What do you do now to pass the time? Are you ok? Are you healthy? What is the first thing that you will do after quarantine is over? Do you think covid-19 will end? Where did it come from? Can you get everything that you need during this time?

These are questions that I have for anyone that I have spoken to during these times.

By nature, we as humans are social creatures. I think one of the hardest things for me personally has been missing friends and family that I cannot see in person right now. I have dealt with several personal losses in the past few weeks where people have passed that I have been connected to. Some being associates that I met and befriended in crossing, one good friend, and one Great Uncle in my family.

One of the hardest things with loss is that you just want to be able to hug someone and hear that things will be OK while you in due time honor and process the loss. These are unprecedented times though. We must maintain social distancing and be strong. We are fighting an invisible enemy. How can we know if we are carriers of covid-19 with certainty? Testing is still highly lacking through out the world, yet there are protesters in many places that simply want to open our economies and don't seem to care.

If there is one thing that I have personally learned from the past few months, it is discipline. I have payed more attention to what essential needs are vs. wants also. And I am realizing more now than ever that I don't need a lot to survive. What I do need though are connections with friends and family. One of the hardest things during these times is the feeling of being alone. The quiet leads to thoughts running ramped in the mind. These thoughts lead to questions. Questions lead to more questions than answers. And then the answers that we have with no certainty make us worry because there are so many more unknowns at this stage of the game.

I left NYC on December 13, 2019 to head for Detroit. My goal was to spend a few months with family before I embarked on my 2020 workshop teaching plans. Life was not exactly where I had hoped that it would be prior to embarking, and I needed a break from New York City. I had thought that the time spent with family would replenish my emotional state, and that time on the road would renew my inspiration and curiosity for creating.

As I recall leaving New York, I remember seeing an article in The Times about a doctor in Wuhan, China that blew the whistle on a new Sars-like illness. Honestly, being so far away from many world conflicts sometimes in the world, you think to yourself that it could never happen to you. You are nowhere near where the sickness is. Your heart goes out to those who are sick, but you don't personally know them, so human nature leads us to continue our day to day routine. It continues until something comes to our back door. Something that we would have never imagined possible in 2020. Something that we have heard about in the history books, but never imagined would happen in our time. Prior to this, wars were fought in far off lands. Places that we had heard about, but sometimes never, or would never have visited in our lives. Now the war is at our doorstep.

This quarantine has been a challenge to say the least. At first with the overwhelming bombardment of traditional media, and then that of social media, things like fear, sadness, anger, paranoia, and anxiety set in quickly. We are a global society that has grown accustom to information at our fingertips. Why is there no quick answer? Simply because this is new to all of us. We have never experienced anything like what is happening. Even the experts do not have definitive answers, and our leaders that are supposed to steer the ship have failed to prepare or predict anything like this to have ample resources for our safety.

After several weeks though, the mind and psyche settles into the rhythm of acceptance. This is actually happening. It seems like a nightmare that you want to pinch yourself and wake up from, but unfortunately it is reality. Acceptance leads to survival mode though. And survival is not equal across the globe. No one anywhere was prepared for this.

Survival to some has meant remotely social distancing in different locations outside of where they traditionally live. However, that is not something that everyone can afford or have access to. For some it is a challenge being in enclosed spaces that are terribly small like a New York City apartment. For others, social distancing is a different experience with access to a house on a piece of property somewhere that they are accustom to as the norm. For every single one of us, we are processing differently as we shelter in place, and there is no easy answer.

Some of us are struggling to pay our bills. Many are worried about the potential of starving if they can't find ways to make money to afford food if this continues long term. Some miss activities and experiences that we place our self worth in. All thoughts and worries are valid.

Here in the United States, covid-19 has spread faster and further than anywhere else in the entire world as reported so far. Everyone here in the US is used to a culture where we are free to do what we wish when we wish within accordance to our laws and constitution. So when states lock down and begin to restrict certain actions stating that it is for our protection, it is easy to become scared and act out of fear or individualism. The problem though is still that we are fighting an invisible enemy. Gathering in any capacity not only puts us as individuals at risk with this enemy, but puts others at risk if we become a carrier and pass along covid-19 to others. In other words, this virus is NOT ABOUT YOU! It does not discriminate between who it infects or does not infect. But the fact still remains that resources are not readily available to help everyone in the capacity that we need. Many individuals flock to social media to share theories, political views, or daily news. But again, no one has a definitive answer. In history, social distancing during times like these has prevented the spread of infection. Yet, why do some not listen?

One thing that I have had the hardest time with personally is not being able to hug someone, or see friends and family in person. I attended my first ever Zoom hosted birthday party for one of my best friends last night. It was nice that we could connect and converse to celebrate, but it is still not the same as if we were in the same location to hug and share the experience in person. There are many video chat apps. I have embraced a lot of them for my job as a teacher, or to try to connect with friends and family.

So how do we become social from a distance for now? How do we embrace the technology or the new norms during these times?

There are a lot of experiences that I miss. I have been pretty remote for several months now even before quarantine, and it is the things that we do not have access to that we became used to that are the hardest at first. But, I have personally noticed that I have become much more in tune and appreciative of the little things that I can get access to or that I do have. I have noticed a trend online that so many post that they are "bored". I think that boredom is a state of mind. This is a great time to embrace something like creating at home, reading, spending time with those you are safely quarantined with, or to learn a new skill. This is a great time to push all employers to access technology to a new access where we have the decision whether we work from home or work from an office in future. Why do we need to be tethered to one location anymore?

A few months back when I arrived in Detroit before quarantine, I started in on a plan to learn new skills on Udemy. I signed up for a life coaching certification, a meditation certification, a marketing course, a neuroplasticity class, and a cognitive behavioral therapy course. So far, I finished three certifications, and I am half way through the fourth. It goes back to the idea of discipline though. What could I do to better the  situation and engage the mind to step past boredom? Sure, there are days that I don't feel like doing my courses or feel like doing anything for that matter. I think in these times that we must remember to be kind to ourselves too though. We will make it through this. We will find a way to adapt and make something better when we come out of this. But as I learned in my life coaching class, we cannot change ourselves if we do not want to change. We must not act on fear or expectations. Both can only lead to disappointment so often, where as facts can formulate rational decision. So we must want to change in order to better our situation, and we must adapt to do what we can with what we have to survive.

I long for the days that I can see you all in person again, and that this whole nightmare is behind us. I long for the days that we can grab a cup of coffee, or a slice of pizza together to talk in person. I long for change, but for now I hope and pray that you all as you read this are safe and healthy no matter where you are and what you believe in. I send you a digital hug from a distance! What are you doing to stay social from a distance during these times?


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