Tuesday, February 25th — One month ago
I got up as usual and went for a three-mile run. After breakfast and my usual preparation at home, I traveled to two of the schools where I coach on the west and north sides of Chicago. I had meetings with a principal, a teacher, and a teacher team at these schools. At the end of the day, I traveled home by public transportation and enjoyed dinner with my family.
There were 51 active cases of COVID-19 in the United States.
Saturday, February 29th
Our family wanted to go to the Field Museum to see Sue the T-Rex for the final day of the museum’s free admission month. When we drove to the museum, we realized that no parking was available due to the Comic-Con being held nearby. Instead, we ate lunch in Hyde Park and went to the Art Institute.
There were 60 active cases of COVID-19 in the US. The first COVID-19 death took place in the United States.
Monday, March 9th
At my job, we decided to cancel the trip we had planned to take to New York. My colleague and I felt that it might still be possible to move forward with the trip, but we were concerned that the participants would not enjoy themselves because of their worry about the virus.
There were 663 active cases of COVID-19 in the US and a total of 26 deaths in the US to this point.
Wednesday, March 11th
I drove to three schools where I coach, meeting with a principal and several teacher leaders. When I got home, I had a dental check-up and cleaning.
There were 1,248 active cases of COVID-19 in the US and a total of 38 deaths in the US to this point. An NBA player was diagnosed with COVID-19 and the NBA suspended its season. Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife had been diagnosed. My job announced we should cease traveling to schools or our office and work from home for the foreseeable future.
Friday, March 13th
There were 2,157 active cases of COVID-19 in the US and a total of 49 deaths in the US to this point. The Illinois Governor announced that Illinois schools would close as of Tuesday, March 17th.
I conducted several virtual team meetings and was briefed on the COVID-19 crisis for work. I called my mom to wish her Happy Birthday. I started dealing with some real fears about how far this crisis will go… How many people will die? How many will lose their jobs? How will this impact our government? How will this affect me and my family?
Wednesday, March 18th
There were 9,003 active cases of COVID-19 in the US and a total of 150 deaths in the US to this point. The Village of Oak Park, where I live, announced that all residents were to “shelter in place” — in other words, not to leave their place of residence except to procure food and other essentials, exercise, travel to essential work, or a for few other limited circumstances.
I had a virtual 1-on-1 meeting with a colleague and led a virtual team meeting. I updated some team project plans and presentations. I started to experience the tedium of existing almost exclusively in our small apartment, with brief trips to the store or the park. I really started to wonder how long this crisis will continue.
Wednesday, March 25th
There are 53,697 active cases of COVID-19 in the US and a total of 780 deaths in the US to this point.
One month ago, I, like many people in our country, had no idea what was about to happen. I was spending time with my family, going to work, exercising, reading for pleasure. I was living my relatively privileged life, with its normal ups and downs and mundane stresses. I was aware of the coronavirus and COVID-19, of course, and had some low level of concern. But the crisis, like those of SARS and MERS in recent decades, seemed like it was something for other people in other places to worry about. I had sympathy, but not empathy, for those people, because I didn’t see my own situation in theirs.
In the following weeks, the crisis remained remote for me, like many Americans. That started to change the evening of March 11th. That was when the NBA shut down, Tom Hanks announced his diagnosis, and my job asked us to work from home for the foreseeable future. That was the moment when the crisis started to become real, and that crystallized for me in the next two days, as the State of Illinois announced the closure of all schools for at least 2 weeks. The crisis moved from something that others elsewhere were dealing with to something real for me.
This transition in my thinking truly emphasized the privileged position in which I live my life — white, middle-class, heterosexual man, American citizen, able-bodied — and how that position allows me to often ignore the challenges that others are facing. And my privilege still exists. I have the privilege to work from home, the privilege to maintain my salary, the privilege of health care. Still, in some small, significant way, this crisis has pushed me closer to the uncertain state in which many people must live.
The last two weeks have seen me run through the full span of emotions, amplified, and on repeat. Concerned. Nonchalant. Terrified. Bored. Delighted. Depressed. The full range of emotions from life, but accelerated and increased. Echoes of apocalyptic horror movies, as well as times of boredom and isolation.
We have no idea when our current circumstances will change, or whether they will get worse. We have no idea what comes next. People are scared. People are suffering. People need community and connection. I need community and connection. And we are finding ways, new and old, to create and rediscover it. I have increased my electronic connections many times over, through video chats for work and with family, social media posts, phone calls. I have increased my physical time together with my family. I have reached out to local businesses, to my neighbors. Is it enough?
This is a significant event in all of our lives. I hope that we all get through it physically, financially, and mentally. I do not view this event, as some people have said, as an opportunity. This is a crisis, and people are sick and dying. But perhaps we can learn from this crisis. Perhaps we can learn on a personal level how to slow down, how to enjoy what we have, and how to value people over money. And perhaps we can learn on a societal level the extent to which we are linked together — the extent to which we are entwining with one another. These are just some of the lessons we can and must learn, if we are open to the learning. I hope and I believe that we are. We may be living in this time of crisis for an extended period. Perhaps one way we can get through it is to ask, “What did I learn, and how did I grow today?”
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