In the past two weeks, life in America has been turned upside down. We face a crisis of a magnitude none of us has ever experienced. And yet, as I enter my thirteenth straight hour of staring at my phone in the fetal position, I can’t help but be amazed by how smoothly we’ve adapted.
The human spirit is remarkably flexible, allowing us to thrive in the unlikeliest of conditions. Who would have predicted, even a month ago, that Americans would be living under statewide lockdowns? But here we are: Isolated in our homes, working from our couches, bringing our bottles of red wine into our showers, and asking our plants if they’re mad at us, all without skipping a beat.
There’s no sugar-coating it: This is a terrifying moment. We’re worried about our health, our livelihoods, and our loved ones, all at the same time. Does that fear keep us awake? Sure. Can it prevent us from focusing fully on our work or creative projects? Of course. Did I have somewhere positive I was going with this? Frankly, there’s a lot on my mind right now and I do not recall, but I haven’t let that stop me from continuing to type. Against all odds, I am typing faster.
As I’ve lately taken to scrawling on my walls with lipstick, we are doing fine.
Take a second to marvel at how efficiently we’ve found a new normal. Take the whole day, even. Time is meaningless. I took a nap in the middle of this sentence, and chances are, so did you. Now there is gum in my hair, even though I was not chewing gum when I fell asleep. And guess what? I’m already used to it.
All throughout history, humans have made the best of challenging situations with a few ingenious substitutions, and we’ve proven ourselves no different. When American women were deprived of nylons during World War II, they painted lines up the backs of their legs, to create the illusion of a seam. When we were deprived of restaurants, we FaceTimed our friend Ben and made him watch us eat handfuls of Rice Chex straight from the box, to create the illusion of a meal. We also painted lines up the backs of our legs, just to see if that did anything for us. The leg thing turned out to be less applicable to our circumstances, but we were open to new ideas, and that’s why we’ll get through this.
The hardest days still lie ahead. There will be more boredom, anxiety, and loneliness, and, for who knows how many of us, sickness and sorrow. But we will adjust, I say to you from the floor of my closet, where I knelt to get a better look at a bug, and then thought, sure, this is an acceptable place to lie down. We will stay connected to our communities. We will press forward with the important work of ranking the objects in our homes from Softest to Pointiest. We will start learning French, and we will give up immediately. And c’est, uh, will be bien. We are doing fine.