Philosophically speaking, this country is about as divided as I’ve seen it. This sentiment has been echoed by almost everyone I pose the question to. Obviously, major civil rights issues created a greater divergence in the most extreme beliefs, but most folks that were on the wrong side of history were small in number relative to the greater populace and the beliefs that ultimately became the law of the land.
What we have now is battle raging in not only the general interpretation of what “freedom” really means, but why, how, and to what extent do we really have to follow government mandates. To that end, what really is a government mandated recommendation to do something. I am certainly not a constitutional law scholar, yet the comically dysfunctional attempt to exert control by national, state, and local leaders has been challenging to reconcile. From threats of pure marital law (CA), to general aloofness (SD), to bombastic rhetoric and ill-conceived, unenforceable guidelines (USA), how are any of us supposed to figure out what is reasonable and what isn’t?
In any event, I don’t think the most important thing to focus on is the efficacy or legitimacy of the plans our leaders are laying out for us; rather, I think one may want to look at how life is changing irrespective of one’s personal beliefs or grievances with our mostly elected decision makers.
Here’s what I’m seeing right now. First and foremost, people are finally able to tell if they actually like their lives. The majority of the folks I’ve been speaking with are generally fine. As in, this entire shelter-in-place fiasco has pretty much just been an inconvenience. People are spending more time with their spouses and kids. Mostly this seems to be good-there has been a modest increase in domestic violence arrests of about 9% (USA Today). Most people that still have jobs have transitioned to remote working, without issue I might add. Even more people are drinking more at home-good and bad I guess, DUI bookings are down about 67% nationally (USA Today).
All things considered, this stuff is not that bad. Heck, you may have even been forced to learn how to cook. While we all sit around and figure out what the next steps in this “war against an invisible enemy” are going to be, we should at least take a personal inventory of what we have learned from this new world we live in.
I’ll go first. I like hanging out with my family a lot. Toddlers are insane, and they cannot be reasoned with. Infants don’t care about dad. Eating at home is better than eating out. Good wine at home is less expensive than bad wine at restaurants. Working in my basement is shockingly efficient. FaceTime >Zoom>WhatsApp>Skype. A clean car is overrated. Dress shirts don’t have to be dry cleaned. Clients still like me if I’m not wearing a dress shirt. Using Venmo is way better than carrying cash. Golf is not golf with raised cups. Pool noodles should stay in the pool. Working out is not really a thing without a gym. Dogs bark A LOT during the day. Neighbors are weird, and they think you are weird too. A roll of toilet paper lasts a long time when you are worried you might run out of it. Same thing with paper towels. I have more stuff than I need, and you probably do too. The internet of things is just getting started. And finally, the stock market does not care about your feelings.
I could have taken this blog a different direction, and I chose not to. The takeaway from this is simple. You get to choose if you want to be angry about things you can’t control. You also get to choose if you want to learn from this experience and create a better version of your life. If you have been directly affected by the pandemic by way of job loss or sickness, choose the way forward and don’t look back. Everyone will never agree on what is right or wrong, good or bad; however, everyone has the ability to choose to focus on what’s really important and put their energy into whatever that may be. I choose to cherish my time with my family and prize efficiency of work over quantity of work. Now it’s your turn to choose.
Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.