My wife recentlywrote a post about our city’s annual tradition of putting up flags ahead of Israel’s Independence Day. Apparently someone raised concerns on Facebook about how this extra cost was wasted in light of the need for more resources to combat COVID-19.
These flags aren’t an annual exercise in vanity and frivolity, they mean much more than that –
Seeing those flags made me smile. Seeing those flags made my heart feel lighter. It made me feel connected to people, my fellow citizens, when I had spent almost an entire month in my home with no personal contact with anyone outside of my immediate family.
Those flags gave me hope.
It was an affirmation. We are Israel! We are Israelis – and we can overcome anything that is thrown our way.
So, random Facebook man, I vehemently disagree!
Those flags are not a waste of money. Not at all. They are – Joy, Love and Hope. And they are a promise.
Maybe it is familiarity during a time of uncertainty that I find comforting. The unknowns pull the levers of anxiety. Because of this, I have to limit myself to thinking about today and not worrying too much about what may happen tomorrow. When I start to think about tomorrow, or the next week, I find that my motivation is sapped just a little bit more.
One of my friends pointed out Seth Godin’s post about transitioning to a new normal through a slog (at least that’s what I take from this). This idea resonates with me, to a degree, even as it unnerves me –
During a slog, we have a chance to accept a new normal, even if it’s temporary, and to figure out how to make something of it. You don’t have to wish for it, but it’s here. There’s very little value in spending our time nostalgic for normal.
When we get to the other side of the slog and look back, what will we have contributed, learned and created?
What I take away from this is that the slog we’re in at the moment (with pandemic restrictions, and a new way of living amidst these coronaviruses going forward) is that this is a period of painful change, and learning how to live uncomfortably.
When we finally emerge from the “slog” part of this journey, our lives won’t look the same anymore. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing.
One way or another, we’ll find out, th0ugh. And in times like these (as is the case generally), our attitude towards the change will make a huge difference to whether we can thrive in what becomes our new normal.
Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents learned long ago — it’s not about winning; it’s about striving for the bronze. This is a perfect time to finally recognize how much you’ve been trained to perform parenting. To design a cozy little reading nook so your Instagram followers can see it and grudgingly approve. To bake your vegan muffins (and take a photo) or pack your kids’ bento boxes (and take a photo) or set out art supplies in a scattered but not too scattered way, if you catch my drift (and then definitely take a photo). To head into the woods and make flower crowns or whatever the fuck it is you’ve been doing out there. Give. It. All. Up. It’s time to take this parade float and strip it down to four wheels, a floor, and a functioning steering wheel. It’s time to be basic.
Perfection is utterly unrealistic. Most of the time, we’re trying not to take drastic measures just so we can continue working, and earning an income while so many are losing theirs.
I certainly find the new distance learning situation challenging. I don’t want our kids to lose months of progress because we’re increasingly confined to our homes.
At the same time, I don’t have the time I’d like to have to sit with them, and guide them through their lessons (or other learning materials). For me, it’s work as usual, and I have my days planned out between customer support shifts, and virtual meetings with my colleagues.
I certainly don’t have the time to cook nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mostly just want to check that our kids have eaten something decent every meal during the day (and my wife has been cooking some amazing dinners in the evenings). You won’t see any Instagram gems from me there.
So, if you’re working from home, and trying to grab moments of sanity, while feeling guilty that you’re not winning any prizes as a parent, you’re not the only one. Let’s just strive for that bronze medal, maybe.
The speed at which many schools have closed, and kids and educators have had to switch to distance learning platforms have caused quite a bit of frustration, especially for parents overwhelmed with the sudden influx of messages.
Here’s a funny (and true) rant from an Israeli mother who found herself overwhelmed by the flood of messages on WhatsApp, and expectations from teachers that she (and we) be able to fill the gap left by in-person learning.
The Internet can be a tremendous distance learning platform. It just takes some planning to deliver a more rational, and accessible distance learning system.
One of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is that more people find themselves needing to work remotely after having worked in a more conventional office environment for most of their careers.
Shifting to remote work can be a little disconcerting. Fortunately there are substantial resources to help you work productively, remotely.
Automattic is a totally distributed company, and we have some expertise in how to make this work. As a starting point, take a look at these posts from members of our team:
We live in challenging times. Here in Israel we have the dual challenges of this new coronavirus, and having just had our third elections in the hope that our leaders will grow up, place Israel first, and form a sustainable government.
Larger forces, and uncomfortable spaces
The recent elections had been coming, so we knew more or less what to expect. This new coronavirus really shook 2020 up for us. Between these two events (at least here, for me), there’s a lot of uncertainty, and a sense of larger forces at play.
This is not a comfortable space for me to be in at all. I have very little control over either situation, only my responses to them. Even then, my responses are limited. So, like I said, not a comfortable space to be in.
Both events have a sense of inevitability to them.
Either our leadership will form a government (at the very least an emergency government to deal with the current situation), or they won’t (and we’ll head to a fourth set of elections).
As for the coronavirus, and the spread of COVID-19, well hopefully we’ll see a vaccine developed, and the virus’ spread start to slow sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we wash our hands, cough into our sleeves, and limit our exposure to people who could be affected, or infected.
Toilet paper shortages, and panic in homes
With all of this going on, it’s hard not to be concerned, even scared. When terrorists fire rockets into Israel, we can see the projectiles, and where they’re going. We have defense systems that can literally blow them out of the sky.
A virus is invisible to us, and unless a person is symptomatic, we can’t see our “enemy”. This unseen enemy, coupled with the coronavirus’ spread being categorised as a pandemic, is leading to panic.
We see this in empty toilet paper shelves as families fear they’ll be forced into two weeks of quarantine. Supermarkets are limiting access to 100 people at a time due to a prohibition on more than 100 people in a closed space, some are even doing temperature checks before allowing people in.
On the one hand, this is no longer “business as usual”. On the other, panic is hardly helpful.
Now and then I hear or see messages that our kids friends exchange in their WhatsApp groups. They’re telling each other that simply going outside will make them sick, as if COVID-19 is hiding in the bushes, ready to pounce.
When our education minister mistakenly said that kids in my daughter’s grade would still need to go to school (school is closed for kids in her grade and older), she burst into tears because she didn’t want to “get corona” by going to school.
This is despite our kids understanding that the virus is transmitted from person to person, and what precautions to take. They also understand that even if they become infected, it should be pretty mild for them.
Parents are also panicking (understandably).
Perspective, and sanity
Despite this being an unprecedented event in our lifetimes, I’m working to maintain a healthier perspective on the pandemic with our kids.
I remind our kids that as viruses go, this one isn’t deadly to all who contract it. I also remind them to wash their hands, cough or sneeze into their sleeves (or a tissue), and to be mindful of how close they are to people.
I also tell them that it’s ok to be scared. This pandemic is almost unprecedented in our lifetimes (we weren’t particularly affected by SARS or MERS in South Africa). At the same time, we understand how to reduce the likelihood of being infected.
Still, it’s scary when you see so much discussion about the coronavirus everywhere you look. The Media’s coverage often leaves you with the impression that the Zombie Apocalypse has finally arrived with virtually every image being somber looking people dressed in environmental protection suits.
Taking a step back, or several outdoors
I went for a walk the other day to pick up some items for home. It was a warm evening, and I was thinking about Israeli politics, and the pandemic. I caught myself, and decided to rather just walk mindfully in the warm evening, appreciating being in that space.
It worked, and I felt better. It didn’t fix these challenges we face, but it reminded me that sometimes all we can do is change our response to situations like these. That and these challenges will pass in time. Change happens.