To Not Wasting This

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
Paul Romer, Stanford economist

Today is Day 70.

It has officially been 70 days since I’ve been working from home due to COVID-19. It’s been 70 days since the reality of this started to hit me. It’s been 70 days since I first heard the quote above. And that quote has been on my heart every day since.

I will start by saying that I understand how fortunate I am to, at least up until this point, not have been immediately impacted by this virus. My favorite passion - going out to eat - turned into a good deed. I’ve been asked to take 80 hours of vacation over the summer. Jacqueline is still employed. We’re all in good health. The most raw impact that I have seen was this past weekend while attending a heartbreaking funeral for my Uncle Don, with dozens of people mourning, sitting every other pew, singing through mandatory masks and being reminded to practice social distancing. Looking around, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in some bizarre Coen brothers film.

We woke up early on that quiet spring morning of the funeral to make the drive to St. Louis. Those types of mornings are my favorite for what I do best - think. And I was thinking a lot about how fragile life can be. Within just the last 18 months, my dad’s family has lost two uncles. Two dads. Two great men. Both were entirely too young to pass away by society’s standards, but as a lot of us unfortunately learn too soon, death can be rebellious. I’ve been reflecting on death a lot lately, and how can you not? You can’t even scroll through Twitter without seeing a debate about when we were going to hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths or a chart comparing this death count to that of one of a number of natural disasters. But there is something about experiencing death at a closer level than a headline throughout all of the chaos around us. It has never been more clear that not only are our bodies fragile, but so is the world as we know it. We know that death is imminent, but we have become so good at distracting ourselves from that fact. We know that our economy/society/jobs/hobbies could be taken away in an instant due to a crisis, but we were so far removed from the last historical pandemic of this magnitude that we didn’t realize how true that was.

So, at 28 years old, I am, for the first time ever, truly wrapping my mind around the fact that most of who and what I know can be gone in an instant. And I think it’s time I change my life to better align with that fact.

If you do not practice what you have learned, you have not learned.
Matt Kearns, senior pastor

Matt Kearns said this to me for first time in the summer of 2012. The good news about that: I was old enough to remember it. The bad news: I was not old enough to understand it. I mean, sure, I understood the words he was saying. But I knew then and for many years later that I was certainly not learning very much. Before I could really understand it, maybe I needed to see how important it can be to create loving relationships, to put family first, and to be the greatest person you can be to everyone. That is a consistent trait you would find in my Uncle Pat and my Uncle Don, and it was so clear when we gathered as a family after their passings that the people in that room was really all that mattered. Nothing else that they bought, or owned, or did was with them. And it won’t be with me, either.

Have I learned how fragile life is? If it’s all about what I practice in my day-to-day, then let’s find out.


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