Why I'm taking this more seriously
A shift in perspective around COVID-19, working remotely, our new normal, and a story of hope
|Steven Wakabayashi||Mar 19|| 1|
It’s been a harrowing week. Recent events have unfolded in unimaginable ways. The coronavirus has finally come to the US.
For months, it has been business as usual here in America, even as various Asian countries have been decimated by this virus. Even for myself, I was off galavanting through South Korea and Japan carelessly based on the little information I was able to read. Weeks after I returned, I was out getting acupuncture treatments and going out to my favorite restaurants in Manhattan, joking about social isolation.
But I have changed my stance on the situation.
After reading trusted news outlets and studying scientific journals, I am embarrassed to have taken the situation so lightly. It shocks me how much I had downplayed this entire situation. In hindsight, that was a reflection of me, my shortcomings, and my coping mechanisms at the time.
Some things on my mind:
I had witnessed first-hand the difference in attitudes of how South Korea and Japan reacted to this situation. With just a few cases, the entire country retreated, put on masks, and emptied out public spaces. What I experience in America is the complete opposite, even with more cases and deaths than these two Asian countries combined. New Yorkers are still shopping, visiting each other in their homes, commuting, going on runs… and I fear there is a huge learning opportunity that is looming ahead of us. If we do not adopt the same mindset and behaviors as Asia, we will not have the same response that they have had to this situation.
The biggest impact we can have is to remove ourselves from the equation of viral spread. Socially distance and quarantine to avoid being potential vectors of the virus. The Washington Post did a beautiful, animated job illustrating how to “flatten the curve” of a contagion. If we all took responsibility for ourselves, we can protect those we love all around us.
Until scientists and doctors better understand this virus, we need to be overly cautious to ensure our own safety. This isn’t just money or time we are gambling with, it is our lives. In this situation, the consequence of being wrong cannot be undone.
When advising or supporting others during this tumultuous time, understand that everyone is on their own journey. Ultimately, we cannot help those who are unwilling to help themselves. I’ve exhausted myself this past week trying to get those I love to change their behaviors. I’ve realized that I can only do as much as they are willing to accept. We must focus on taking care of ourselves first and pray they will follow our example.
As we head into isolation and observe how things turn out, recognize what a beautiful opportunity is blossoming before us. Peace begins to form around the world, pollution and CO2 levels have dropped significantly, and nature is reappearing in some of the most trafficked areas on Earth.
This is perhaps the wake-up call we were all looking for.
How many times we hit the snooze is up to us.
Starting today, I will be hosting various digital mindfulness sessions and talks to help empower and calm those who might be struggling at this time. I will be experimenting with various formats and see which resonate with my community. Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts… we are blessed with so many digital mediums to connect with one another instantly all around the world.
With that, so much love for you during these turbulent times. May we be safe, may we be healthy, and may we be happy in the upcoming weeks.
Metta. (with loving-kindness)
Podcasts on COVID-19
One of the best sources of information has been Sam Harris’s podcasts. He sits down with Nicholas Christakis, Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science, about the impact of the pandemic to society and Amesh Adalja, infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, about the spread of the coronavirus.
And another one that was thoroughly nourishing was the one with Tim Ferriss and Jack Kornfield to talk about finding peace amid COVID-19.
Author Daphne Gray-Grant offers some great advice for those learning how to establish working remotely during this time.
A new normal
Despite what people have said, life has still not returned back to normal in China. We are now operating in the quarantine economy: delivery and sanitation.
A story of hope
BBC News filmmakers followed the story of the coronavirus through Wuhan for over 50 days since lockdown in January. The story does have a hopeful ending.
As always, thanks for reading!
P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com
Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌
Have a beautiful day!