We Are Living in a Satirical Movie, Right? Is This REAL?
I don’t know if you are feeling this way, but I kinda feel like we are living in a satirical version of a science fiction thriller.
Mel Brooks was a genius with this. A blockbuster video would come out and he’d get to work creating an absurd version of it (highlighting the absurdity that was already inherent in the original story.)
Well, in 1995, Hollywood produced “Outbreak.” But it turns out that we didn’t need Mel Brooks, this time. No, rather than leaning on a producer who specialized in comedic fiction recreations, we decided to go the route of creating a reality TV show version.
I mean…come on. Even Mel Brooks would never have had the ability to blend dark comedy with despicable tragedy and send a pandemic shooting across the globe…slicing through China, then Europe, then over the ocean to our “invincible” US of A…and who is President? Trump? Mel Brooks would have probably shot the idea down saying “nah….that’s too far. The audience will think we are trying too hard.”
Four Way Chess:
It feels like we are playing four-way chess on a singular board. One opponent is the virus. Another is the economy. Third, we have a very real leadership vacuum (and no fair ONLY blaming Trump. He hasn’t helped, but it’s not like anyone else has stepped up to the plate to say “let me show how it’s done”). And the fourth is good old fashioned emotional panic.
If you are anything like me, you take satisfaction in strategizing. If the economy yields a “correction” (ahem….stock market crash), you put out applications for five jobs a day, network at job events, say yes to every internship opportunity or volunteer post and learn to get used to rejection as you move closer to the end goal of employment.
If you want to get healthy, you exercise, eat well, go to sleep earlier, wash your hands and stay a healthy 6-foot distance from sick people who have a case of the sniffles.
If you feel yourself panic, you pull up your meditation app and plug away at your daily practice, engage in another sequence of yoga postures and learn the art of breathing longer and slower while reaching out to loved ones and getting a hug.
And if the problem is leadership…well…you hold them accountable, kick em’ out, and bring in a fresh face in hopes that the next one will do a better job.
The problem, though, is that we aren’t dealing with any one of these things. We are dealing with ALL of them at the same time.
What does this mean for those of us who love to strategize four or five moves ahead? It means we need to hang that particular skill set up for a moment. I don’t know if you know this, but you can’t strategize five moves ahead with four opponents. The best you can do is the NEXT BEST MOVE.
The Result of Every Decision You Make Will Correlate with the Clarity of Your Headspace at the Time You Made That Decision.
So what IS the next right decision? I wish I could tell you. Context can be everything. But here is something I can tell you. The best way to determine the next right move is almost always to do it with a clear headspace.
You don’t determine your next best move in a place of panic.
You don’t determine your next best move on limited sleep.
You don’t determine your next best move when you’re hungry.
What I’m trying to say, here, is that the best possible thing you can be doing on a regular basis is taking excellent care of yourself. Not just in the woowoo kumbaya way. But in a pragmatic, clear headed way. This not only helps you physically (which makes it harder for a virus to hijack your immune system, BTW), but it also helps you, mentally. It helps you to see your options more clearly.
Let me give you an example…
Before this pandemic really kicked into high gear in the US (this was in late January through February) I was on the hunt to buy a home. The timing was right. I like my job. I like where I live. I have the right amount for a down payment. The interest rates are good. Sure, I might be buying close to the top of market…but I am pretty sure I want to stay here for at least the next 5 years so…it all adds up.
I went searching. I found a house. I put in an offer. The offer got accepted. That all happened just before the start of March (by now you see where this is going, right?)
As the pandemic really started taking off in the United States, I stayed the course. I mean…I’m going to need a place to live regardless, right? But THEN the stock market began wobbling. I was still okay. THEN the Fed lowered interest rates down to nearly zero. THAT did it. For whatever reason, the combination of closing departments down at my place of work mixed with the uncertainty of the virus mixed with the uncertainty of the economy…it all sunk in. My system went HAYWIRE.
So what did I do? Did I back out of buying a house? (after all, I am still employed now, but who is to say what will happen in the next few months?)
I did NOTHING.
Knowing that my system had been activated and was on red-alert, I stopped. I chose not to make ANY decisions. In fact, I made a point of ignoring most calls and texts that came in that day. Why? Because I knew…and I mean I KNEW no decision or conversation I could possibly have that day would be fruitful for either me or anyone on the other end of that phone.
I walked. Then I ran. I journaled. I listened to music. I watched fluffy TV. I ate a healthy meal. I went to bed. THAT is what I did that day. You know why? Because that was the only decision I could make. That was the next right decision for me.
The next day, after getting adequate sleep, I woke up feeling clear-headed. I used that space to exercise, meditate, and then start making some decisions. I crunched some numbers. I weighed and measured all my options. I decided to continue with the process of purchasing the home.
As I write this, I’m still in escrow with a closing date of May 12th.
TO BE CLEAR – I AM NOT SAYING EVERYONE SHOULD GO OUT AND BUY A HOUSE!
I don’t want anyone to think “Oh…okay…so Leah is saying we should all go buy real estate?”
Things are still incredibly uncertain. A year from now, I may be writing about the nightmare that is trying to sell my home or rent it out because I’m unemployed and need to move on. Or, a year from now I might be blissfully happy in my first new home and reporting about the next project I’m working on at work and in my private practice. The outcome is not really the point. The point is – no matter WHAT happens, next, I will know that I made the choice I made from a place of calm, clear, level-headed pragmatism and not from a place of fear or panic. That’s enough for me.
No matter who you are, I am sure you are dealing with change. Perhaps you have been recently let go at your work? Perhaps you are working from home? Perhaps you are a parent who is trying to balance your responsibilities alongside your new role as a home-schooling teacher? Perhaps you are battling with the symptoms of this virus? Perhaps you are on the front lines and taking care of patients?
Regardless of the changes you are now reckoning with, I am fairly confident that you are probably feeling overwhelmed at various points in your day or week. It’s tempting to want to take on the weight of the world and place it on your shoulders. You want to try and see what is likely to come next. You want to plan ahead. You want to fix it. You want…for Christ sake….SOMETHING!
I wish I could tell you what to do. I wish I could comfort you and tell you it will all be okay. But I honestly don’t know what to expect. Here is what I can tell you, though. If you prioritize practices in your life that help ground you, your head will be clearer. If you have a clearer head, you will make better decisions. If you KEEP making decisions from that place, then regardless of what happens “out there” I can promise you that YOU will be okay. IT might not. YOU will. Because YOU will have the skills you need to respond to the world rather than merely react to it.
Don’t worry about the outcomes of every decision you make right now.
Just worry about doing the next right thing.