Like many people, I usually don’t spend too as much time thinking about the things for which I’m grateful as I should. Sure, when I speak with my wife, kids and friends or walk around a nice house I’m appreciative, but I honestly probably spend more time thinking about what I want or even wish I had.
One of the positives (there are few) of the pandemic is that it may have “set me straight” for good. In what seems like an instant, we went from our “go-anywhere, do-anything” culture to a highly restricted environment. This has given me time to think about the following:
Health. I’ve got to do a better job of taking care of my health. Right now, I’m not in one of those “high-risk” categories and I certainly don’t want to be in the future. Eating better, more exercise and less stress are on my agenda.
Empathy. I consider myself a pretty empathetic and understanding person. probably more than most. However, I’ll admit that I never really thought much about the guy who stocks the supermarket shelves or the guy who drives the delivery truck or most people in routine service roles. I do now! There are so many people who make our lives easier that I probably have taken for granted. Going forward, that’s going to change.
Employment. Every week, the number of people losing their jobs jumps by millions. I’ve always been thankful for having a job, but this has made me re-think that as well. I’m thankful I have a job that can be done remotely, that I have a manager and executive leadership team that values employee safety and that I work for a company that delivers tremendous value in ultimately helping patients get and adhere to live-saving therapies and medications. However, I think it is the camaraderie of my co-workers I really have thought about. Sure, they can be loud and interrupt me at times, but the lack of human connectivity really does take something away from work. When all of this clears, I think I’ll have more of a smile on my face when I’m in the office.
Preparation. When I was a kid, my friend Kurt and I used to ride our bicycles to the North Shore of Long Island to go fishing. We packed our gear, lunch and snacks… however, I was the one who took some tools, a map, some extra money, a rain poncho… you know, just in case. When I lived in San Diego, relatives used to joke with me about how organized I was, with all my financial documents and emergency supplies ready to go… again, just in case (btw, nobody was laughing when we had 4 hours to evacuate our home for 3 days due to wildfires!). Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve always been the home with extra food, 8 flashlights, extra batteries, extra water... even a batter-operated radio. With this pandemic, my preparation tendencies (thanks Dad!) have served me and my family well. Preparation and scenario planning sound often sound like a waste of time and money, until you need it. I’m just going to keep doing what I do!
Nature. With all of this isolation, it is easy to lose track of days and nights. Routines are similar, the news is similar… heck, even the meals get to be similar. However, step outside and go for a walk. See how the grass is getting so much greener, the trees are starting to bloom, the tulips have replaced the daffodils. Despite all of this chaos, Mother Nature continues on her regular plan. There is something comforting in knowing there is something that is on its normal course.
Technology. As painful as this whole self-isolation process has been, imagine doing it without our internet access, cellphones, laptops and video conferencing! I’m really thankful that we’ve got the assets to make remote work and school possible. Yes, I could do without the 7x24 news, but all-in-all, technology is what’s still keeping us informed, connected with each other and hopefully, sane.
Our First Responders. Many of us have the luxury of being able to work from home, be with our families and binge watch that “Tiger Show” or 72 seasons of Mad Men. I say luxury because compared to our first responders, it is. I lived in San Diego during the Witch Creek Fires in 2007 and witnessed the firefighters climbing up mountainsides wearing tons of gear in ungodly heat to battle these blazes. Today, nurses, doctors, EMTs and all of the others are working in equally horrible conditions, covered in make-shift protective gear, risking their lives more and more each day and being separated from their families. Next time we run out of bread or milk, I’m going to think twice about calling that a “hardship”.
To everyone who can keep working, work harder than ever. You owe it to yourself, your family, your company, your customers and all of those who would love to work and can’t. Be safe, be kind and be patient.