M2D25: Grieving the Future

One of my favorite choruses from a David Wilcox (the American folk singer, not the Canadian one) song laments the loss of childhood visions of the future, including flying cars and one-button kitchens:

This ain’t the modern world that I remember

The one they promised all us boys and girls

This ain’t the vision that the artist rendered

What happened to my modern world?

The end of the second verse is even more poignant today:

…With the enlightened ones leading the nations

Bringing peace around the world at last

A utopia of cooperation

Where injustice is a thing of the past

If you don’t know the song (or the artist) it is worth a listen—and the full lyrics are worth a read. Today it’s an introduction to what I’ve been thinking about living in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve believed (known) for a long time that opportunities are to be embraced when they arise, as they may not come around again. That belief got me to Colorado at 22, to DC for two years in my thirties, and onto a 15-month traveling sabbatical in my late forties. Each of these enhanced my life immeasurably. I’ve also always known that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. None of this prepared me for the impact of the pandemic.

The pandemic has taken away our futures—our modern world. The horizon is changed beyond our current imaginings. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this for weeks. Until the last two weeks, the uncertainties were too overwhelming to make much progress with that wrapping. There is more information now. It’s not particularly good, but it is helpful. Dr. Erin Bromage’s much-circulated article was one important summary of what is known about transmission, and the WHO’s statement this week that COVID-19 could become endemic—essentially staying with us forever—revealed an uncomfortable possibility.

With these pieces (and CDC’s guidance for communities, schools, and workplaces) we are equipped to start to move forward. But the future laid out by this guidance doesn’t match the renderings in any of our heads. This mismatch leads to grief. We have lost what we imagined we would have. If you do a web search for pandemic grief, you understandably find many stories about the families grieving loved ones during this time—whether the loss was from COVID or not. This grief weighs heavily on individuals and our communities.

As early as March, there was recognition that we were all facing grief in this crisis. Scott Berinato interviewed grief expert David Kessler for Harvard Business Review. Though the facts of the pandemic have changed since then, Kessler’s advice still rings true. Find balance, come into the present, and let go of what you can’t control. Good advice for any time, essential for pandemic times.

Thoughts about reimagining the future are to be continued…

Meanwhile, in the present, there were bikes to be ridden and osprey to be spotted. (As well as a bit of scenic driving.)

And of course, LEGO to be connected. Box 17 of the Advent Calendar is a surly minifigure with a snow gun (?)

The box shows him riding the snowmobile, but I didn’t think his attitude was appropriate 😎

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