Three hours from when we received the guidance to shift to complete remote work, the necessary policies and instructions were in place. This was easy for me. Tell me what to do, and no matter the scale, I will get it done and set everyone up for success. This was completely natural having served in the Army for eight years with six combat tours changing environments, locations, or job titles almost constantly.
During the first business day of the mandatory stay at home order, I realized that the world and my network was scared and afraid of the unknown. People were unsure of what they should do or not do. People had no idea what was going to happen. For me, this was not my reality? I knew it would all work out one way or another. It always does.
Some of this fear was causing people to deny the pandemic was happening or that they would be affected by it. Our national leaders called it a hoax. People were still going out accomplishing their daily routines. Even after a week, during a necessary trip to the pharmacy, I saw people out and about with no care for the surfaces they touched or covering their cough.
On the other hand, some people were completely paralyzed and did not know what to do and began their hunkered down hibernation. Some people even began discussing whether this was the end of the world or what evil had been committed to create this pandemic.
These emotions are real, all the way around. Fear will paralyze you or cause you to be completely blindsided by the consequences of your actions. I have seen this through my six combat tours as a military soldier, the worst in people and fear drove every single one of those actions.
However, I have also seen the citizens of worn-torn third world countries, who have been occupied by other countries for generations, have hope. I have seen that when another group of hopeful, helpful, positive people enter a country that was so desperate they created a combatant force to defend themselves, realize that a simple helpful, positive reached out hand was the answer to a better existence.
You see, when a group of people are collectively forced to stop the chaotic busying that fills their schedules towards a “normal” routine, you are only left with yourself and your immediate network. For most, that is their families. The quiet that fills the space where you find yourself shows you really who you are. It is that quiet sphere that now drives your soul. When you are forced to stare your quieted, calmed soul in the eyes, it will sear your existence.
What does that sphere look like for you now? Is it what you thought it was?
For me, I realized after these first few weeks that my soul is healing from the chaotic structure that I thought fulfilled the substance of my life. I thought I needed structure. I thought I needed a regular routine.
But when there’s no jolting alarm followed by the standard “not today” automatic first thought as I reach to hit the snooze button, my soul heals. When all three calendars are cleared and I keep looking to see where I must be next and there’s nothing written, my soul heals. When I finish my work assignments and I look to see who I need to help next and there is no one standing at my office door, my soul heals. When I decide to go for a walk outside and it does not include a mad dash to get to the next scheduled event, my soul heals.
After the appropriate prescribed time of quarantine is over and we all fill our schedules with the things we think we missed, how will you remember this time?
After you process and acknowledge what you are feeling, you get to choose whether you stay in that emotional space or not. You get to choose how you come out of this. You get to choose how this time will forever be etched in your life’s memory. What will you tell your grandchildren about this time and how you got through it?
For me, I want this time to continue to be healing. Heal the weight of the everyday office work politics I did not know I was enduring. Heal the stress of managing a chaotic schedule that I thought was controlled. Heal the fatigued thoughts of wondering whether I was doing enough.
In those worn-torn countries where despair was the common emotion, I also saw hope in the eyes of the people. Hope was the bond of human connection that allowed people to erase the emotion of despair.
I get it, we are going through a pandemic and we will be affected by it in one way or another, some of us more than others. But, you have more control over the quiet of these days than you think.
How will you remember these days? You choose.
Click the link below to hear Rochelle read "You Choose."