I think I now know how the people who first heard The War of the Worlds on the radio felt. When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was go back through my email and reread the one that said that school was closed for a month and I didn’t have to go in. I needed to convince myself that I didn’t just have a really crazy dream and that the world was actually coming to a halt over a virus.
The last week or so has been one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had in my life. Whole countries have been placed under quarantine, every story in my news feed is about this one topic, and store shelves are literally bare. It dominates every conversation I have had and every person and organization that I am connected to is continually evaluating and updating their response plan. What is going on can only be described as chaos.
1. Complete disorder and confusion.
2. Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.
With all that has been going on, it would be easy to be paralyzed with paranoia. It is almost excusable to be so caught up in the confusion and lack of clear direction that you ignore your purpose in life and focus on self preservation. Without order, many people struggle to function and will wait to come out of hiding until normalcy is returned.
But if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t really plan on giving much time of day to viruses, thank you very much. Part of that is admittedly due to my not being convinced of the long term severity of the thing we find ourselves fighting, but even more it is because my hope is not in whether I live or die, whether my retirement saving are going up or down, or if I’ll ever be able to buy toilet paper again. My hope is in Christ and in Him all these other worries become trivial.
With that said, there is still a place for prudence. If I am to carry out my purpose on this earth, it is important that I am alive to do it. While the level of effectiveness of a poorly coordinated quasi-quarantine is debatable, it certainly will not hurt and has a tremendous upside if things really do turn for the worse. Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, keep things clean; these are all things we can and should be doing in a time like this.
So where does that leave use individually? I have thought about this a lot in the last week. For reference, here is the position I find myself in. I am a single person living alone, i.e – no dependents to worry about. I live within a short drive of just about anything I could need (despite the current shortage of paper products. My primary job is shut down for at least a month and my second job is open to me being there as much or as little as I want. I’m not sure what that sound like to you, but the one word that has consistently come to my mind is opportunity.
The last year or so has been kind of a whirlwind for me. As I have been digging in to a new job I have found time and energy to be limited resources. Now all of a sudden I have both. I could spend my time lounging around and getting some extra rest and relaxation. I could also spend this time running around like crazy trying to get caught up on the minutia despite seeing the impossibility of this the older I get.
Or I could use this as an opportunity.
You see, situations like this, where there is no playbook, arise infrequently in life, maybe once in a generation or less. It is a slight exaggeration to say that no decision is the wrong decision, but not far from it. In a time where no one is sure of what to do, you can try just about anything. While it may not be obvious in the moment, I think that right now we have the opportunity to make dramatic change in our personal lives and maybe even the world.
So how do I want to seize on this opportunity? I plan to use the time I have to refocus on some of the small things that make a big impact in life. This could be things like spending time doing meaningful things with family, practicing a skill that you have put on the side, or making better health choices. These are all things that can be made into a habit. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. Guess what? 30 days is more than 21.