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Can an Existential Crisis During a Pandemic Be a Good Thing?

As I am writing these words, on May 10, 2020, most of the country and parts of the world are “reopening” after months of being “closed”, in an effort to prevent the spread of the #Coronavirus, which invaded our shores in late January 2020. People will be expected to follow varying mandates of #socialdistancing - a term foreign to us not long ago, as we watched the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Superbowl LVI. Remember that? It was on February 2, 2020 and was the first time the Chiefs had won a Super Bowl in 50 years. Just a few short months later, that game feels like it was 50 years ago.

Since then, we have been forced to be quarantined, close small businesses, shut down schools, retail, houses of worship, recreation, and ultimately the global economy. In some families, income stopped all together. For others, it continued if their business could be conducted from their confinement. There were many, who did go to work every day, propping up the rest of us. Our nation has been operating with a skeleton crew to keep infrastructure, basic needs, and our very lives from ending. From Hospital staff to Law Enforcement, to the media, to Grocery workers. They have kept us alive, as much as the virus would allow them to, while the rest of us sat helplessly at home; to worry, to struggle, to mourn, to hope that somehow this would soon end. No contact with friends, or parents (except in adapted forms), unable to hug a friend who lost a loved one, prohibited from turning to others in a time of grief, pain, and peril- at least not in the way we need to. We are social beings. This has been a primitive and punishing blow to our core, the human spirit.

The #Coronavirus seems to have propelled many into an Existential Crisis- struggling to find the meaning of life and pondering what has kept them from pursuing whatever it is that would give them a sense of purpose. An Existential Crisis can occur at any moment in time, but a traumatic event like this pandemic can surely activate it. The threat of the #Coronavirus has put people into a state of heightened anxiety about our entire existence and mortality in a prolonged and violent way. For some, it begs the question: What does my future hold if I am able to survive the present?

All of this has me thinking a lot about Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks (who recovered from #Coronavirus, along with his wife Rita Wilson). In the film, Chuck is stranded on an island for four years, after surviving a plane crash. A man whose frenetic world revolved around time and efficiency in his work at FedEx, now exiled to a deserted island, with nothing but a broken clock and whatever else washed up on the shore. Chuck transformed a volleyball into a representation of his alter-ego to keep him company. The ball, or Wilson was there to help Chuck contemplate the meaning of life. To help him determine the “to be or not to be” question in the face of death. Fortunately for us, we are not as isolated as he was. We have phones and wifi and a supermarket to give us some external connection, albeit it limited. This time apart presents us with an opportunity to be with the most important person in our life - our self. It’s a time to take better care of our self. Maybe you are reading more, or writing more, or realizing the value of the family dinnertime, or how great you are at baking, or how much your daily workout reduces your stress level. It’s a chance to take your career to a new level or change careers all together. Perhaps this scary, stressful, uncertain time can also serve as a moment to take inventory of our lives. What we want and what we don’t want. What has worked and what has not worked. What has been sitting on the back burner, now calling you to act? The world we return to will be filled with uncertainties, but it will also be filled with possibilities. The Universe has handed us a blank sheet of paper. Fill it with anything you want. Take advantage of your time away. Give yourself the gift of time with you and you alone. You’ll see - you’re pretty good company!

If you need a little inspiration, check out these pages:

Cooking with the Kessler’s -a talented Chef and his wife giving cooking lessons.

Steve Grogan -hilarious Comedian who is ripe with new material!

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