Once when I was working on campus, we had a substantial reorganization that took most people by surprise. The realignment was announced as a fait accompli and even those affected were told simultaneously when the whole campus received notification. It rocked my world. I likened it to an earthquake where even when it is over you never quite feel the same level of stability. It was always in the back of my mind that the fault lines could open again.
I anticipate that many will feel this way post-COVID. Like after 9-11, we have lost the collective sense of normalcy and a sense of routine that we could count on. As a result, it may be hard to think long-term or we could find ourselves adding asterisks to all of our plans (“We’ll see you at Christmas if we’re able,” or “I hope to go to Europe next summer if it’s safe.”). The uncertainty leads to a perpetual state of tension and even fear.
Yes, the world is a different place than it was a few months ago. Yes, change happened at a breathtaking pace and most of us did not see the magnitude of what was coming. And, like those living in cities on literal fault lines, we must learn to move forward and live without an impending sense of doom.
Take the presence of potential danger seriously. Put policies in place that help to reinforce strength. Make preparations and safety plans. Listen to warnings and be prepared to respond quickly. Cultivate a mindset that is adaptable to change. But remember, even though thousands are impacted when earthquakes upend their city, few ultimately die from them. Keep things in perspective.