I was talking with a friend yesterday whose husband told her he'd like to have a birthday party next month, at their house, with about 25-30 people over.
"I am not at all comfortable having that many people over at the house, even if they're all outside," she responded.
I then asked the question, "When will you feel comfortable having a backyard party?" What, exactly, are we waiting for? Is it a vaccine? The election? A 6-month, 9-month, 12-month flattened curve? The eradication of Coronavirus from the North American continent?
The interesting answer is - no one knows. There is no defined finish line to all of this, and what one person's definition of "safe" is can be vastly different from another's.
Humans function with starts and ends to things. All four seasons have a beginning and an end, so does a calendar year. School years have a first day and a last day. Pilots always tell us how long the flight is. There are 15 minutes in all four quarters of a football game. The finish line in a marathon is at the 26.2 mark. Escrow has a close date. Gestation is nine months. I was just googling "lifespan of a shih tzu" the other day, because Bella is turning eight (FYI: average is 13 years, so we're good for a while).
We don't do well with unknowns. The mystery of the timing of death drives us all nuts. "Live like today is your last," is an ominous nod to our frustration with that. Waiting in line without any idea of "how much longer" is exasperating.
If we knew how long we were all in this quarantine thing, our sanity around it would be much more manageable. What if we knew - March 8, 2021 would be the day we are all "back to normal" and we can ditch the masks, business will be back to usual, parties and weddings can resume, consumer confidence is officially restored, and fear is - gone. Sure, it's a long ways away, but if we had something to count on, we could manage.
But.....we don't. We have no idea. We don't know how to even define the end, let alone know when it will come. Over time, the unknown is proving worse than the pandemic itself.
"Over time" are the key words. What are we doing over time? What if we create our own tunnels with lights at the end that keep us focused and make us feel like we've accomplished something?
Years ago, an old friend told me she'd decided to go to law school. "Three years is going to go by, so I may as well have my law degree at the end of it." What a perspective!
If I really want to go nuts, I'll wallow around waiting to live until it's over. Or, I can choose to come out of this healthier, smarter, and more financially secure. Here are my tunnels:
Started Weight Watchers, hit a daily step count, and increased my distance while shaving my mile time. I've lost 10 pounds and I have 20 more to go. At this rate, adding in a little cushion, I should be hitting my goal by mid-September.
- I enrolled in a 3-week, 9-part finance class and finished that last week.
- I am saving hundreds of dollars a month by not spending it on gas, travel, and eating out, so I've taken those line-items and repurposed them into my Robinhood and an Acorns accounts. When the stock market tanks (like today), I can research and buy cheap, and with my spare change, I'll have funded my IRA for 2020.
The pandemic will eventually be over, so you may as well have _____ by the end of it.
What's in your blank?