We are all stressed right now.
I am stressed.
Our “new normal” is anything but routine and puts demands on us that we are not prepared for.
For those of us with kids suddenly we are home school teachers in addition to working remotely in volatile financial times. We are pulled in a dozen different directions without the respite of having the kids on play dates or at sports.
Our social support networks are suddenly all online and stretched thin.
We are lacking the human contact of shaking hands or hugging someone that we aren’t bunkered down with, cutting off the oxytocin supply and novelty of experience many extroverts need to cope with stress.
The economy is shuddering, jobs are uncertain.
No one knows when we will have any semblance of our old lives back, and even if many aspects return there will be so much disruption in so many areas that we all need to evolve immensely.
PTSD will be rampant, and we will all carry some form of forced emotional baggage from this experience. This is this generation’s Dallas and 9/11 and Challenger all in one.
I’m not eating as healthy as normal, and my workouts are truncated. My average daily step count is down by several thousand a day, and my clothes aren’t fitting like they did two months ago. Maybe yours aren’t either.
I am drinking more. I am holding the line and not having any alcohol until 5pm because I refuse to cross that line, but others have and I understand why. Sometimes I want to pour one at noon out of frustration or boredom.
I see those I care about teetering on the edge of breakdowns and it worries me, knowing I can’t just go see them and talk to them. To go try and help them. To be powerless while those you love are hurting and hurting badly, spiraling into their own depressions and bad decisions and I want to put on my White Knight armor and ride out to save them. But I can’t.
I see my kids forced to deal with each other and isolated from their friends, no outlet for their energies and lacking guidance because I am trying to do my work and manage my needs while helping them, and I am overwhelmed. And failing I feel. I no longer joke about being “the worst father ever”, because I don’t believe it’s a joke anymore.
I want to help my clients, to reach out to new people and guide them through the turbulence, to put my mind at ease by assisting others and doing good. By filling my time with positive action. But there is so much fear out there and it is harder than ever even though people need professional guidance more than ever and we can have greater individual impacts than we (or they) can comprehend. Yet I try every day, no matter how many times I am told “no” or fail to save someone from the external forces or their internal demons and poor choices. I can’t abandon hope or my mission, even when I feel overwhelmed and outgunned.
We are all getting overwhelmed, and can’t say “well, at least they go back to school in two weeks.” This is a six month long summer vacation without sports or societal activities but with schooling, the worst of all worlds wrapped up in one ugly stress ball.
I don’t know how I am going to make it through. Just like you the black moments hit me and hit me hard, something that is foreign to my nature. “Butter scraped too thin on the toast” Bilbo Baggins said.
And yet I’m not dead yet.
As Viktor Frankl discusses in “Man’s Search For Meaning” there are moments of transcendent beauty and peace that we must grasp in the most horrible of situations. That pink and orange sunset, with the clouds glowing gold in the fading light.
That smile from your love, their eyes sparkling and laughing with the passion that dances beneath their strained exterior.
The sound of the rain hitting the road, nature cleansing herself and our souls before the promise of the rainbow is painted across the canvas of the sky.
We must search for these moments of beauty amid the ugly of our days.
Admiral Stockdale endured.
Anne Frank inspired.
I am none of these people.
I’m just some dude typing at a computer and trying to do the best I can.
But the Dude abides.
Breathe my friends.
Go outside and scream if you must.
Do what you have to do, to not give in today.