Rising sea levels. Melting ice caps. A plummeting stock market. Cyber attacks that can destroy our infrastructure. The opioid epidemic that continues to kill thousands. The ever-present danger of terrorist attacks. Brad’s and Jen’s never-ending tumultuous relationship.
And now the coronavirus pandemic.
No wonder our minds feel like they are being marinated in apocalyptic, existential scenarios—because they are.
Our axons, synapses and dendrites are working overtime. They’re turning to mush. Psychologists are experiencing a tsunami of anxiety sufferers. And my mother, were she still alive, would be calling every 15 minutes to see if my family and I were okay, bless her soul.
As a nation we’ve seen versions of this movie before. Those of us of a certain age have experienced a lot in our lives that should have prepared us for times just like these. So let’s stop and ponder for a moment.
Recall we weathered the terrible polio and influenza epidemics of the 1950s, not to mention the potentially world-ending Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s.
The Vietnam war sent many of us into the jungles of Asia and onto the streets of America—yet we got through it.
The Civil Rights Movement was anything but civil. It was downright brutal and murderous, but we got through that, as well. We overcame the grief associated with the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, and watched parts of many of our major cities go up in flames. Yet we survived.
And nothing turned our world more upside down than 9/11. But we’re still here.That’s not to say that sacrifices weren’t made. Many people suffered greatly. Many died. But as a nation, we survived. We got through it all. Crises always seem the most dire when we’re in the middle of them. If you’re a child of the 60s like me, think of our parents who must have thought they were witnessing the end of civilization when the pandemic of that era was sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
So let’s step back from all this doom and gloom and think of what we have, rather than perseverate over what might befall us.
At times like these I turbo engage in my philosophy of SMOJs, namely Spontaneous Moments Of Joy. I try to focus on the little things that so often go unnoticed and unappreciated but are at the core of our lives, like time spent with family and friends, early morning walks, late afternoon sunsets or sharing a laugh with a complete stranger.
I try to silo life’s sometimes harsh realities from what’s going right in my life—and it works.
Yes, things are crazy, not normal—and deadly serious—and probably will remain so for a while. If the news is driving you around the bend, stop absorbing so much of it. Stop wringing your hands.
Instead, do what you can to protect yourself against life’s vagaries. Follow the advice of the experts. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Avoid large crowds.
Also, maintain perspective, as well as a sense of humor (no gargling Clorox and stop licking handrails). Then call a friend. Share a story. Laugh loud and hard together. It will help cleanse your axons, dendrites and synapses.
If we buy into the hysteria, we’re wasting precious time. And time is the most precious thing any of us has.