The Day the World Shifted
March 11th, 2020.
6:18 PM: Tom Hanks announces to the world him and his wife, Rita Wilson, have Coronavirus.
6:32 pm: The NBA suspends the season. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has a memorable in-game reaction.
Within a matter of minutes, it became real.
It is said that things happen slowly … then all at once. This is exactly how it felt on March 11th, 2020 with the Coronavirus. For weeks leading up to this, we read, heard, and saw a growing number of news stories about the Coronavirus, but we continued to go about our daily lives. Personally, I was aware of the Coronavirus in early February when my Chinese suppliers for my eCommerce business informed me they wouldn’t be going back to work because the Chinese government was restricting all travel. From my comfortable home office in San Francisco, I viewed this as a minor annoyance, but that things would go back to normal “over in China” in a few weeks. How wrong I was.
Our lives changed overnight. And now, for the past eight weeks, we have been living in “the new normal”. Parties have been replaced with Zoom hangouts, everyone wears masks when going outside, there's hour-long lines to get into grocery stores, and we’re all still learning how to maintain work/life balance when our work and life all happens under the same roof.
Looking beyond the daily headlines and the numbers, this period of time has been compounded by loneliness. Typically, during times of tragedy we all come together. Friends and families come together and are more grateful to be in the presence of each other with a loving hug, a kiss, and someone to lean on. More broadly, communities come together. They show solidity and strength. Everyone has a sense of pride to stand alongside their fellow man or woman in their neighborhood, city, state, and country. But this time, it’s different. We shelter within our own homes. We maintain safe distance from others. And we are weary of strangers.
Among all the bleak news, I am an optimist. During tough times, optimism always wins. For the past two months, we have seen the best (and worst) of humanity. However, the good always outweighs the bad. It has been inspiring to see stories of donations to hospitals, younger generations buying groceries for the elderly, generous tips to service workers ,and even a modern-day Manhattan project.
Looking inward, this has also been a great time to pause, step back, and reflect. Life moves so fast. Our mornings consist of being jolted out of bed by an alarm, sluggishly dragging ourselves to the shower, hurriedly pouring our morning coffee, and rushing out the door to catch the Uber to get to work. During the day, we’re in back to back meetings, responding to emails, and trying to check boxes on our to-do list. By the time we get home late in the evening, there’s either more home tasks to do before getting to bed, or just more work. Is this really the optimal way to go through life? Probably not. So now, it’s different. We get to spend the entire day with our family. We are able to slow down a bit. We have time to actually sit down, think, and ask ourselves, “What really matters to me?”
For me, this quarantine period has been blissful. I have a renewed sense of gratefulness, happiness, and peace. It has become truly clear to me what matters in life, which is health, happiness, love, and freedom. If you also have this clarity, I applaud you. It took me almost 30 years to get here. If you’re not here just yet, I suggest you take the time to make the most of this time in isolation.