By Rob Schuham, co-founder of Undercurrent
It feels like a tale of two cities right now.
Many of the people I know are feeling anxiety, some to the point of total panic. And the markets are not helping any of this. Nor is the complete lack of leadership on a federal level.
My social feeds are lit up with fear, upset, and even anger. This highly concerned group of friends are out buying supplies, hoarding toilet paper (if you can even find any), and getting ready for Armageddon.
On the other hand, I have friends who are totally laissez-faire, going on with their lives, not “social distancing” themselves and essentially looking at COVID-19 as if it were merely a case of the “common flu.” There are people who are joking constantly, accusing others of fear-mongering and toeing the line of the media being more the culprit than the virus itself.
Case in point, I went out to dinner last night with one of my closest childhood friends, and the restaurant was surprisingly packed. Tables jammed together, servers bustling about. I have to admit I decided to track one just to see if he was practicing hygiene. And it was clear he was not…touching his face, gripping plates on top while he served. I then watched others…the same thing. What did I do? I ate my meal while having this sense of underlying dread that the number of people who have the virus is vastly underreported and that, statistically speaking, it’s highly likely there were people at that restaurant who have it, and might not know it.
While I, obviously, fall more into the highly concerned group, I am resisting the temptation to totally lock down. I want to see my friends and loved ones beyond my immediate family. But after last night, combined with digging deep into the Coronavirus data, I’m not liking what I’m seeing. I’ve cancelled my in-person meetings. I’m supposed to co-host a political fundraiser next week for a good friend, and I’m already calling some of my fellow hosts and checking in to see if this is really the right move now.
To wit, my son called this all right away and was at Wal-Mart well before the shelves were cleared of hand sanitizer, buying supplies, and preparing for a total quarantine. I was the voice of calm, suggesting he relax at first. Now, I’m sort of glad we’re stocked up. I was laughing on the phone this morning with someone close to me in New York who knows my son, and we came to the conclusion that he was born for this. Good to have a mini-“prepper” in the family.
So, I suppose you could classify me as a person slipping and sliding into my own version of how to deal with this pandemic. A Colorado version. I’m meditating, getting outside on my bike, enjoying the beautiful mountains we have here, and trying to have some semblance of balance. I’m interacting one-on-one, and finding that I can drop in deeper with friends—a silver lining to all of this. For those of you in the big city (I live part-time in NYC myself), this is harder, I realize. Shopping and dining are contact sports, so it’s difficult. And Amazon has run out of a lot of stuff.
I’m not advocating one direction or another. There is merit to both sides. If you’re happy and enjoying life, your immune system is probably not as compromised as those in fear and living in that “other city” and self-quarantining.
So, there are two sides to the tale of the two Coronavirus cities. But what I’m a strong advocate for is common sense. And serious-ass hygiene. I would not be socializing in large groups right now. Not until we have adequate testing in place where we can actually know what’s going on. And although we’ll be looking at “social distancing” both sadly and comedically in the years to come, it’s a prudent thing to do.
And through it all, enjoy life. Find ways to laugh (it’s good for your immune system). And love the ones you’re with.March 13, 2020