4 Lessons from a Pandemic

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Rusty Thompson on May 13th, 2020

It’s been two months since our community started experiencing the disarray brought on by COVID-19. I know that for many of us, including some of the most vulnerable in our community, what we knew as normal still feels quite distant. And then for some of us, life is slowly settling in to some new sense of normalcy.

As we continue on this path towards normalcy, I have been reflecting a bit. It’s been a challenge, and one that we are still battling with, but I am encouraged by the many positives that I have seen and the lessons we can take from this experience.

Today, I wanted to share four of these takeaways with you.

Global Connection. Before this, I believed a pandemic was a thing that happened in distant times, faraway places, or in sci-fi movies. I have been humbled in seeing how something like this can effect so many lives across the world as we all weather the same storm. The speed that this pandemic moved across the globe has been illuminating in just how deeply interconnected the world is. The virus traveled fast, and that was relative to how we are more globally connected than ever. Although that was exposed as a weakness during this trial, I choose to see the global connection as a positive in that ideas, solutions, and cultures spread quickly as well - and more oft than a virus.

Local Community. This global event has really highlighted the importance of - and the strength of - our local community. I have seen our community band together to feed school children, to pick up groceries for those who are more at-risk, and donating masks and PPE where there are shortages. The chamber also put together the Eat GNV group to keep us informed on how to support local restaurants. I’ve heard before that a community is best measured by the compassionate acts of its members, and I am more convinced than ever that Gainesville is an amazing community to be a part of. We are #FORGainesville.

Empathy Towards Perceptions. I have spoken with people whose feelings about this pandemic range from devastating end-of-world scenarios to completely normal and business-as-usual. Most seem to lie somewhere in between the two. I work to remind myself that we are all unique individuals, and we come to this moment with our own set of experiences and perceptions. I don’t have to agree with everyone to be respectful of their viewpoint. Most of all, I work to remind myself that this broad tapestry of individuals is part of what makes our community such an interesting place, and that empathizing with others' perception of the crisis does more good than debating it.

Enjoy a Change of Pace. Many of us are compulsively busy people. The world moves fast. The list of commitments is unending and the calendar is packed. It doesn’t stop... until it did. We had to adapt quickly to hold on to our sanity. Suddenly, there was time for cooking, home projects, and forgotten hobbies. There was more time with the people in our homes. I’ve gone on more walks in my neighborhood with my dogs and family in this time than ever before, and there is something comforting about a simple walk with the family. I don't plan to forget those hobbies, the walks, or the new meals as I get busy again.

As we begin to slowly move toward some normalcy, I pray that these four lessons of global connection, the strength of our local community, empathy toward perceptions, and enjoying a change of pace aren't soon forgotten. They were takeaways that will be extremely valuable and useful for the future.


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