Have you ever found yourself sitting at a fork in the road, wondering which path to take? I suspect most people can readily relate to this metaphor. The fork in the road is all about choice. The choice is where you pull together your options, your awareness of the possibilities, and assess risk mitigation tactics against desired outcomes.
Typically, I love being in the position to weigh my options against the possibilities and potential outcomes. I more than love it, I need and want it. I recognized that my need for decision making is a form of control that I’ve taken for granted. It’s been taken away with the COVID-19 pandemic. The level and speed of impact on human lives and society as a whole are unprecedented.
I worry a lot. I worry about the steep climb in the number of people impacted by the virus. I fear for the healthcare workers, the true heroes in this mess. I pray my family and friends will be spared. I watch the volatile stock market and economy with angst. It angers me that anyone believes GDP growth is worth a single life. At the same time, I worry about the clients furloughed and hope my kids won’t be next in losing their incomes. I find it curious that I don’t worry about me.
Instead, I find myself sitting at the fork in the road, wondering what I can do or should I do next. I am fighting for a level of control that is unreasonable to expect. I am questioning which options and outcomes are worth shooting for. Most of the time, I just want the world to be restored to normal. And then at other times, I am more curious as to what can we do better to create a new normal when COVID-19 is no longer the major threat it is today.
Our normal was pulled out from under our feet. We can’t take anything for granted at this time. We can’t assume we will have access to essential material needs. It is frustrating to prohibit physical proximity to friends and society. We crave our favorite things, such as going to a movie, playing in the park, or stopping at the local ice cream shop for our favorite Rocky Road. We are washing our hands and practicing common sense sanitary habits, not sure how we forgot that one.
At the same time, this horrible disease is enabling us to spend time and connect with our immediate family members while distancing from extended family. I miss hugging my grandkids so very much. Kids are missing school, and I see parents taking up the reins to continue their learning. Never have I seen parents and their kids walking together, shooting hoops in their driveway, drawing with chalk on their sidewalk, or riding their bicycles as a family unit as I have in these past two weeks. I’ve met more of my neighbors than ever before despite our keeping a safe social distance. We are sharing needed staples without embarrassment or hesitancy. We are picking fruit from our trees and leaving them in bags for strangers to come, pick up, and enjoy.
I’ve read more and reacquainted myself with lost hobbies, delighting in the feel of a paintbrush in my hand. I have signed up for an online drawing class in hopes of renewing long lost skills. My husband and I have spent more time in the past two weeks together cooking, talking, and just basically finding us than we would have in two months. I’ve taken the time to reach out and talk with old friends and colleagues across the globe. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and reveled in the reconnections.
In cities across the world, the streets are empty of vehicles and people; factories are shut down. In China, satellite images have shown a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide pollution. The skies over Bejing are blue, and the water in the Venice canals is clear. In New York, scientists at Columbia University are reporting a significant drop in CO2 emissions as traffic has dropped dramatically. The earth is taking this time to heal itself, proving the role emissions play in climate change. Will the coronavirus finally help us to see our climate is a disaster we can solve through simple actions?
Do we want to return to a world consumed by greed and distance? Or, do we continue to build on the new communities we have started? Are there lessons to be applied? Will we grow from the experience and develop the missing safety nets? Will we look to adopt low climate impact transportation methods and advocate for increased working from home? What more can we do to make the world safe? Will the coronavirus finally help us to see our climate is a disaster we can solve through simple actions?
I find myself questioning, “What outcomes should we expect?, What outcomes do I hope for?” As Alice answered, “I don’t know.”
We are all in this together. We know this pandemic has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When it ends, which way will we turn in the fork in the road? Will we return to our way of living, or will we use this life-altering event to define a better way, a better outcome, and a better world for generations to come?
There is no easy answer to these questions. Please join me in continuing the conversation.
Take care, be safe, stay home, and wash your hands often,