Is this the end times? It feels like we have been mentally preparing for a while. Anyone with a pulse has noticed climate change, pollution at atrocious levels, corruption, politics, on and on it goes. People have been desperately clinging to zero waste and shouting into their social media about how the government isn’t doing anything. I’m one of those people, so there is no judgement. If as a species we could just get ourselves together and do what we know needs to be done, we wouldn’t be here. Anxiety has been high, it has felt like animals before a storm. We all know it’s happening, but no one knows exactly what that is.
And then coronavirus starts. I don’t think people were exactly surprised, but clearly, we have proven ourselves to be woefully unprepared for a virus that realistically isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. People are scared, and rightfully so as governments close boarders, travel bans are enacted, large and lucrative gatherings are canceled, social distancing is encouraged, and schools are closing their doors to go to distance learning. This all seems like an extreme drill for when the real plague hits. China dropped the ball by trying to cover up the virus for a solid month before they were forced to admit and acknowledge this was a thing that was going to explode. Lesson learned there, I hope. Medical facilities around the world are not equally capable. Testing for the virus has shown to be a problem on many, many levels. Vaccines take a long ass time to make. I would highly recommend you listen to Sam Harris’ Early Thoughts on a Pandemic. It made me put it in perspective, but also was quite enlightening in just what should make us worry.
Preemptive measures are key to stop things like this from even getting the chance to spread, like testing anyone with flu-like symptoms to identify unusual strands. Ultimately, the panic is what we should be most concerned about, as we watch people quarantined, not able to work, mortgages froze, stock market in free fall. Those are problems that potentially could hurt more people than the virus itself. Uncertainty and insecurity make people act in damaging ways. Everyone can see that no one knows what to do. No one has the answer, so judge sparingly.
So, with that all said. Here I am. In Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s okay. Go look at the map and come back. We are dead center in the Balkans. It was hit hard with the collapse of Yugoslavia, then the war in the 90s. It’s one of the poorer countries in Europe because of this. It’s medical care is behind and has left us nervous when a pandemic is making its way here. There are currently 11 confirmed cases, but we all know its higher than that. Testing for the virus isn’t something that is going to be prevalent here. The day that COVID-19 was declared a pandemic was the same day the school we teach at closed. The next day Trump’s 30 day ban for Europeans traveling to America was announced. It’s true that Americans could/can still enter through certain airports, but it’s also true that most flights were canceled. It became extremely difficult to leave. Needless to say, with trying to figure out how to teach online and maintain a level of rigor that is arguably impossible to do with online learning for 2nd graders, and feeling like my family and I might be trapped in a country that is not only not ours, it is also a country that is even less prepared than neighboring countries, like Italy, that have been turmoil over outbreaks. That was a lot to digest in a short amount of time. Stress levels were astronomical. Did I mention that I was also watching our stocks crash to the point where we lost a solid 20% of our investments because of this virus. If that all doesn’t scream for concern, then you are delusional.
What do I do when I’m stressed? I run. Run and run and run. I’ve over doubled my average distance as I try to process and work out exactly what is happening around me. I have been trying to clear my head, shake out this anxiety that keeps creeping its way back into me. Every time it starts, I put my Altras on and head for the hills, pavement, trails, anywhere that can consume my stress for me. I’m always amazed how much perspective I gain for my little world when I’m out there. By the time I get back home to the people that need me the most, I’ve worked some shit out. I’m ready for their worries and concerns, and I can better help them. Many people outside of my family have tried to make me feel like my running is selfish, and it might be to a degree, but it makes me a better mom, better teacher, better wife and friend. So when I get home, I scoop up those little ones and instead of being terrified of what life is offering us right now, I can help them feel and see what we still have, which is a lot.
With all those kilometers I’ve been banging out, my stress and anxiety has subsided. While we may be here for this pandemic, it can’t last forever. The bigger picture is what will happen next time in the future when the real virus, the one that is going to do even more damage hits. Where do we want to be, when will we pull the cord to get back to where we want to be? It’s all quite fascinating to try and learn from.