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COVID and the Great Baseline Lowering

What lessons do quarantine, illness, and forced baseline lowering have for us?

Key points

  • Economically, physically, and socially, COVID has caused us to slow down, lower our baseline expectations, and do less.
  • Baseline lowering is never a comfortable process, though it is a healthy one.
  • COVID forced me to consider how I was living my life and what deals I was making with the universe.

Life occurs in cycles. Growth periods and retraction periods. COVID has been a major retraction period in so many ways.

Economically, physically, and socially, COVID has caused us to slow down, lower our baseline expectations, and do less.

Baseline lowering is never a comfortable process, though it is a healthy one.

As with any tragedy, there are always silver linings, and I want to highlight some of those here. In emphasizing the benefits we’ve seen, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m ignoring the fact that COVID is a tragedy and that there has been irrevocable damage to people’s lives.

As 2022 inches nearer and we again confront a spike in COVID cases that’s triggering the deja vu of feelings we all had with the initial spike, what are the lessons we’ve learned? What are the lessons to be learned from this newest wave? What feelings come up with yet another wave once we were getting immunity and the world was opening back up?

The first holiday season that we were expecting to be back to normal at long last was pulled away by a new surge, one that is not prevented by vaccination or prior infection and one which is more contagious than any strain we have seen.

I got COVID myself this month while my spouse was in another state. Isolated and sick, I was forced to consider the risks (I have a pre-existing condition and hadn’t yet been boosted), and give up my typical coping mechanisms of productivity, exercise, etc.

I of course sank into a depressive state for the first week of the virus. It was awful, and I’m grateful for it.

There was value to this time of fear, illness, and gratitude.

COVID forced me to consider how I was living my life, what deals I was making with the universe, and consider whether the universe was actually consenting to these deals.

My personal deal was, “I will be disciplined, and this discipline will immunize me to disaster.”

I wondered what other deals with the universe people were making, and how COVID forced us to examine these.

One common deal a lot of us had to confront during COVID was, “If I work x amount or make x amount of money I can be successful, live a good life, make my loved ones proud, and find happiness.“

For many of us, COVID has taught us that these deals we make may be one-sided. We may be working towards a payoff that will never come.

Many of us considered what the payoff to sacrificing work-life balance was once we were forced to slow down.

COVID has taught us that life is happening right here, right now. The only time that is guaranteed is the time we’ve already spent and this moment right now.

So, as we reflect on 2021, and 2020, what do we want for 2022?

How can we live our best lives if quarantine is back for a bit? What lessons do quarantine, illness, and forced baseline lowering have for us?

What deals have you been making, and what do you want for 2022 if the world doesn’t look like you had hoped it would a month or two ago?

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