For the first time since the days that followed the horrific tragedy on September 11, 2001, I feel as if life has offered each of us a “pause” button to stop and reflect. For the past two decades, the busyness and stress of life had become routine, almost habitual. Excuses such as, “I’m too busy,” “I just can’t find the time,” “I feel like I can never catch up,” have become socially acceptable and shared by so many.
On a different continent and over 7,000 miles away, we learned of the coronavirus as it unfolded in China. Each passing day in January, the story became more serious.The daily influx of active cases became frightening, and the discussion became one of, “what if?” The warnings began to surface that this could become a situation that the entire world would have to deal with.
January 20, 2020. The first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV infection is announced in the United States. For weeks, many did their best to downplay the situation by comparing it to the common flu. It was based on a lack of education and facts associated with the long-term outlook for a very contagious virus that we had never seen before. For a month, people complained of the inconveniences placed upon us: events cancelled, meetings postponed, and concern for travel. Then came the closures of the schools. Wait – wasn’t this just another version of the flu? Were we overreacting? The entire world was struggling to find answers, and then the following hit the news outlets:
On March 11, the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. In the past century, there have been four pandemics caused by the emergence of novel influenza viruses, 1918’s H1N1 virus, 1957-58’s H2N2 virus, 1968’s H3B2 virus, and the 2009 H1N1pdm09 virus.
It was time to get serious and think about the ramifications. This was not going to just “go away”; we were in for a fight. At that point, businesses were put into two categories: essential and non-essential. People would be furloughed or laid off as their workplaces were ordered to close their doors, grocery stores couldn’t keep their shelves stocked, and hospitals became swamped with people who had symptoms and could no longer breathe on their own.
The pause button was pressed. The world changed.
Rather than tune into the 24/7 news cycle that causes fear, I directed my attention toward opportunity and improvement. I’d like to encourage you to take full advantage of this “pause” to become more self-aware and reflect on where you are in your life today, as well.