If a future historian asked what world-changing event occurred January 25th 2020, most of us will likely screw our faces trying to recall something–anything–that made this weekend stand out from any other. Honestly, I doubt that few people would have a clue; I know this guy sure wouldn’t, and here’s why:
As with most people, Saturday Jan 25th 2020 was likely typical: Jam-packed with weekend activities like frantic Costco runs, kids soccer games, potluck dinners with friends or an overindulgent booze-fest (“just one more glass of wine”) predictably followed by two ibuprofen before bedtime, and blinding regret, black coffee and a side of embarrassment the following morning. Like I said, a typical weekend.
And to be fair, why would anyone remember this bland, ubiquitous date? With the rare exception of an over-indulgent celebration – birthdays, wedding days, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. most activities wouldn’t leave a dent in our minds, let alone our hearts. Even the worlds worst hangover probably wouldn’t tip our memories needle favourably. So why wouldn’t people remember the important event from this date?
Typically, historical events usually happen quickly and loudly (think 9-11) then dominate the airwaves 24/7 (a) for the next week or two, or (b) before taking a backseat to the next big global milestone (like an Oscars slap)… usually. But not this time.
This milestone began gradually, gained stealthy traction until BAM! Like the sudden shock of jumping buck naked into a frozen lake, the world found itself in frenzied panic with no playbook. Collectively we wondered (a) what the hell was happening, (b) what the hell to do next, and for some, (c) where the hell to store the scores of cases of toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitizer they greedily stockpiled?
In case the light hasn’t gone off yet, Jan 25th, 2020, was when a plane from Wuhan City, China, touched down at Toronto’s Pearson Airport with a stowaway that shared the moniker of a cheap, shitty Mexican beer. Today we simply know it as Covid; however on that day, few of us had heard or knew anything about it. But not for long.
Within days the world began learning of the disruption, havoc and fear this virus would rain upon our collective lives. It soon dictated how we lived, who we did (or didn’t) spend time with, if we could attend work or school or neither – the list of do’s and don’ts seemed never-ending. As Covid-19 unleashed it’s chaos on a global scale, even the scientists seemed caught off guard, and were unsure what to do.
At this time I made a bold prediction: I said that whatever a person’s (pre-Covid) behaviours or habits were, they’d be magnified (for better or for worse) by the impending restrictions, job status, social life, etc. We all knew Covid would affect everyone; the question was would our individual reactions help us or hurt us?
For example, I believed people who were kind, understanding and helpful towards others before Covid would become even more kind, understanding and helpful during it. My reasoning was since these folks are already charitable in their mindset, Covid would likely magnify this trait making them even more so. Evidence of this was everywhere.
But for every Yin, there is a Yang. I also believed those with a selfish streak prior to Covid would ramp it up as well, and they didn’t disappoint – like the aforementioned jerks who treated the pandemic like it was the apocalypse by hoarding toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitizer.
Languishing somewhere in the middle while trying to make sense of it all sat the rest of us- something especially hard given the bunch of frantic, dubious talking heads on cable news, YouTube and Facebook telling us 24/7 what to do, what not to do, what works, what doesn’t work, and who we should blame for it all.
Worse still, many points of view from these “sources” quickly became political footballs that would go onto strain or break friendships, divide families and challenge both employees and employers in many untold ways.
Faster than a speeding bullet, Covid became the major shit-show that nobody expected, wanted or truly understood. So yes, every single one of us has been through a lot; you’ll get no argument from me. But here we are two years later, so I thought I’d look back, and take stock in my earlier prediction. Let’s have a peek, shall we?
Like squirrels preparing for a long winter, those fanatical about managing personal finances pre-pandemic (like me) generally remained their fanaticism throughout it. We Scrooge McDuck types continued to hunt for bargains, pinch our pennies and freakishly manage every. Single. Expense. Possible. We denied ourselves “wants”, focusing only on buying “needs”. Over the pandemic, many fiscally studious folks paid down a record amount of debt, while others grew their net worth above their March 2019 levels.
On the flip side, many spendthrifts who (pre-pandemic) chronically had too much month at the end of their money, treated Covid as a holiday, using it as an excuse not to change their spending habits. During the lockdown, they moved online in record numbers turning to amazon or Skip-The-Dishes or whatever to get everything from clothes to coffee and donuts delivered to their doors. This resulted in many of them creating even bigger financial holes that they’ll eventually need to dig themselves out of. Let’s hope one of their online purchases was a shovel.
When restaurants and bars and public gatherings suddenly closed, social butterflies took quite a hit – many of them didn’t know how to function in a virtual world! And just like that, the “Zoom” Happy Hour was invented! Woo Hoo! And while it was still social in spirit, everyone agreed homemade margaritas and nachos shared via laptop just ain’t the same. But many stoically kept at it anyway, bless their tequila-soaked little hearts. I truly admire their positive attitudes.
Personally, I never embraced the online meeting of any kind. Sorry Zoom. Actually, Zoom didn’t care. The company began the pandemic at $62 USD per share, then grew and grew before hitting a peak Oct 16th 2020 at $559 USD per share! (Today it’s around $117 per share) It’s all good for Zoom, but means nothing here; that is, of course, unless you were clever and bought Zoom stock in the early days. If so, well done you!
At first, my unwillingness to embrace technology in this way made me feel isolated and alone, but not for long. I eventually began to enjoy my solitude and read even more books. Unfortunately, I also discovered binge-watching T.V. and can confirm that seasons four to seven of The Office sucked – more so upon the third viewing. Two years later, I’m trying to re-learn my dormant social skills, and surprisingly it’s not “just like riding a bicycle”- Grrrr…. Once Ozark Season 4 is done, I’ll try and do better.
If there is a silver lining to two-years of lockdown, it’s that exhausted people didn’t have to attend events or meetings or parties that they didn’t want to go to in the first place, but felt obligated to. Covid gave us an ironclad excuse to:
- Not spend time with people we didn’t care for, out of obligation
- Not attend time-wasting meetings or gatherings, “just because”
- Spend more time at home reconnecting with our families
- Reclaim valuable “me-time” to read, reflect and/or relax
People who regularly use fitness centres or clubs generally fall into one of two groups: One group loves exercise and goes primarily to workout; and while the second group also exercises, they mostly go to enjoy the social aspect these places offer; and there’s nothing wrong with this. I can tell you from experience, it sure beats socializing in seedy dive bars.
When fitness businesses suddenly shut down March 2019, group one looked for alternative ways to stay fit. Some used online fitness programs at home, while others headed outside to get the results they desired. For two years, come rain or shine, these folks have littered the city’s parks, sidewalks, beaches and playgrounds. And it’s been awesome.
Many from the second group simply stopped exercising, since the social aspect was no longer available; again, nothing wrong with this at all. At the club where I work, many cheerful faces are returning after the two-year hiatus, and most are sporting a few extra pounds. Regardless, we’re happy they are back!
For the three months my gym was closed, I walked twelve kilometres a day, six days a week, rain or shine (who am I kidding? I live in Victoria; it was raining). Looking back now, I realize this was the very best thing I did for both my physical and mental health.
These daily walks gave me a purpose; a reason to get out of bed each morning. Once I understood the critical thinking behind this, I knew it was not just about a daily walk, but much, much, more. These walks became the metaphor for how sticking to good habits–especially during a pandemic– helps us create the lives we want.
So, was I right? Did the pandemic magnify our/my habits, good or bad? Did results prove this? I honestly don’t know. And while I can’t speak for other people, here’s what the pandemic has taught, or confirmed, about myself. I must:
- Set my sights on worthy goals, and then take steps towards achieving those goals. Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to do something
- Expect obstructions (maybe even a pandemic), failures, and disappointments along the journey; they are all part of the achievement process. My job is to push through; to put one foot in front of the other, again and again, until I achieve whatever it is I’ve set out to achieve
- Manage my time carefully. Don’t get sucked into the “lockdown mindset” where “Covid” is an excuse to procrastinate doing things that are important for me
- Understand that this is a hard time for everyone -even those who’ve become extreme in their views- and do my best to be civil and understanding toward them. I’ll do my best to be respectful. I’ll also do my best to avoid conflict, mostly by avoidance and when neccessary, elimination of contact
- Continue to make plans for my future, in all areas of my life
- Remember that regardless what happens – the apocalypse, covid, the plague, SARS, etc., I promise to never, ever, EVER hoard toilet paper. Scouts honour.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 112,000 times, and his book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. and spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.