There are 24 hours in the day; though sometimes, we wish that number was so much shorter and other times we wish it were less, we’ve got 24 whether we like it or not. This week, I’m reminded of just how much can happen in that period of time.

At this point, I think we all know what’s going on in the world around COVID-19 and the fact that we are also in a poorly timed allergy season. After all, timing really is everything.

That might actually be our biggest problem when it comes to such a pandemic: we don’t know when or where or how things are happening. We have no timeline and no realistic expectations—this isn’t the scariest part. Logically, maybe it’s not scary for some people at all.

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

The scary part is what we all do when we react to what we don’t know. It’s not the action the virus is taking that brings me the most anxiety, it’s how we react. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

Things have come to a bit of a head this week, considering Monday felt like just another day knowing I had finals coming, spring break soon, more applications to send in, and graduation in just a couple months.

By Tuesday, some finals were moved online, and professors realized that things may need to change faster than they thought. Some schools moved to fully online, younger grades were closed for education, and sports became fanless.

By Wednesday, more schools became fully online and campuses were closed. Decisions were made, precautions were taken, and meetings were finished with finalized plans for what happened the next day.

Because by Thursday, everything flipped. The NCAA ended all seasons before half of them really got started. Teams returned home, March Madness cancelled, fanless sports became playerless sports, major events that I know people have worked on tirelessly and some thanklessly for months were cancelled… And most stores seemed to run out of toilet paper, of all things. 

Now it’s Friday.

I don’t say it like this to scare you or make people worry or to even repeat the conversations I’m sure you can’t help but hear all around you all the time now.

I say this because… because I see you. I see everyone around us trying to figure out what to do or precautions to take or plans to cancel and I get it. I get that we don’t feel like we actually know what’s going on.

All we can do is react.

If this were pure action or just logic without all the rest of it, numbers would add up on the death toll as well as the sick count, but whatever happens would happen. It’s only in reaction, emotion, do we see things closing and kids home from school for indefinite amounts of time and terms like “boomer remover” suddenly getting coined by preteens. Some of us wonder if we’ll graduate, or get to see family any time soon, or have a job to go to for much longer.

Every reaction we have changes things, for better and for worse.

Because some of the reactions are great; hour long meetings that we are so used to are nullified by emails that cover all the information in 500 words or less. We’re seeing flaws in a system we may not have seen before because the tables have turned, and the privilege has changed. People check in with loved ones and family more. Some healthy people might be thinking beyond themselves when it comes to their own decisions. Almost everyone is washing their hands. I repeat, ALMOST everyone is washing their hands. Properly.

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

But the thing is, these reactions aren’t all good.

We see people stereotyping almost anyone who they see as Asian, either quietly or unfortunately, not so quietly. Risks are being taken to fly to other places or travel here/there because those choosing to do so for them will be okay, even if those they do it around or carry things to aren’t. Restaurants are suffering because people are either afraid, racist, or sometimes both. Jobs and housing and food and wellbeing may all be at risk for one reason or another and there is little we can do about it unless we all were on the same page.

There is so much going on in our world right now and to say it’s unbelievable is an understatement. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Of course we’re not on the same page.

Because it all keeps changing from one 24-hour period to the next. I don’t know about all of you, but my head is spinning. It’s hard to keep up.

I think one of the biggest mistakes any of us could make right now (other than anything regarding a lack of hygiene) is to not help one another where we can. Elderly people are sitting in parking lots in their cars afraid to go inside because they don’t want to risk getting sick, yet people pass them by and don’t notice. The homeless are stuck out in the rain with no food and no shelter and quite possibly feeling like no one would care if they got sick. The careless are traveling or coughing or ignoring hygiene suggestions because they’ll be fine, regardless of those around them.

Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash

This isn’t just about me or you or any of us. It’s about all of us, right now everything affects everything.

Like I said, the action isn’t even the biggest part of this equation. It’s the reaction that comes after it.

If classes go online and someone asks to use an old laptop you don’t use or sits next to you in the library since they don’t have their own Wi-Fi, let them. If you’re going home where it’s safe and okay and they somehow can’t do the same, as long as it’s consensual on both sides, take them with you.

This isn’t a time to be selfish, really it isn’t. There’s a lot going on in each of our lives on top of this and I’m sure this has changed it all quite a bit. I’m not going to pretend that I know exactly what’s happening, what’s true and what isn’t, what’s right and what’s wrong. But I do understand how uncertain people are feeling, how borderline a lot of these situations can feel right now.

And I wanted to use this blog post to say that for at least a few people, I see you; not fully, but I’m trying to walk in your shoes for a moment. It’s the least I can do for those who read this and those I care about. 

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

If you have experiences or even just thoughts on everything going on, feel free to share them. This is an open conversation, at least it can be. I don’t have to be the one talking all the time. And if someone out there needs help in a way some else might be able to give, speak up.

Because a lot can change in 24 hours. But maybe we can do our best to help it be positive change.

So here’s your reminder that today is Friday; breathe because some of you have made it through finals or another hard week and for all of us, we’re headed into the weekend. Take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you next week.

One thought on “Action vs. Reaction–How the World Works

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