Van Beek: The marathon of pandemics
“You’re running on guts; on fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You’re delirious. But you keep running because there’s no way out of this hell you’re in, because there’s no way you’re not crossing the finish line. It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand.” — Martine Costello
COVID-19 is the marathon that we’ve all been running, with absolutely no training … we’ve been learning as we go, yet, as we approach the finish line, it keeps moving. People are suffering from burnout, as they anxiously await the end.
It began with two weeks and has extended for over a year, with some saying it may be even another year before things return to “normal” where the definition of “normal” may never be the same.
The stress of the uncertainty is causing feelings of resentment, which suppressed, are creating aggressive reactions among community members, some of it, crossing over to legal issues.
With a vaccine being distributed, we would expect that tensions would ease but for some reason, they appear to be increasing.
As we attempt to return to our previous lives, we are discovering that there are significant aspects of our life that have permanently changed, and while we are anxious to complete this pandemic marathon, we are also leery of what awaits on the other side of the finish line … do we still “got it?” There is also the fear that there really isn’t a finish line.
While life across the world has significantly changed, the American spirit remains. We may get knocked down, but we never give up. Yet, we are also mindful of imposed challenges to that success, and the process of identifying and adjusting strategies can bring about its own unique dynamic. However, success requires us to be cognizant of our reactions, and which of those may be detrimental to our overall objective.
Disruption can cause anxiety, yet it is a necessary element in sparking creativity, innovation, and in expanding our comfort zone. As we explore new options, we may discover new talents both in ourselves and among family and friends. That combination of determination and skill can help change the world in amazingly new ways.
It’s a matter of shifting our focus … from one of loss to one of excitement for unknown possibilities. That shift can make the difference between depression and exhilaration. We can make this a new chapter — one of intrigue.
When in a state of despair, we often react in ways that are characteristic to us, sometimes creating legal issues that need not have occurred. We may suddenly find ourselves needing emotional and psychological support. Rather than consider it a weakness, we can view it as skills acquisition. We are facing new challenges that require a different skill set than we’ve ever previously needed. That insight comes from the strength in understanding that we need to expand our toolbox to complete new objectives.
Our valley has expanded its mental health programs, and law enforcement is working closely with these organizations to provide assistance, which can make the difference between something that began as a medical issue turning into a legal one.
Vaccinations, masks, social distancing, school schedules, work spaces, digital communications rather direct contact … all of these things are creating a surreal environment which, after a year, are beginning to get on people’s nerves, and that is a perfectly normal reaction.
Reactions vary widely because the information being received fluctuates greatly. The person who decides that a mask is unnecessary is unlikely trying to harm others, they may just be following the recommendations of a different “authority” than what you may be following. The person who is highly sensitive about social distancing may be recovering from the passing of a loved one from COVID. To act in an aggressive manner is not conducive towards respectful dialogue.
As a close-knit community, let’s practice the compassion for which we’re known. Hostility does not create bridges of understanding. We can all agree, for the most part, that no one is seeking to harm their friends and neighbors. Yet, if we respond with aggression, we will receive negative blowback. It’s unnecessary.
Respecting that there is scientific data that covers a wide spectrum, let’s give others the benefit of the doubt and remember how incredibly wonderful our valley is by supporting one another through crisis.
This pandemic is the marathon of a lifetime and if we can’t see the finish line, we can create mile markers of success along the way, and know that the competition is within. We can also help our neighbors when they have taken a fall and are tempted to give up.
We are the champions of our own lives and our neighbors are our cheering squad. Remember, you’ve got this … after all, you’ve faced worse in your life, and emerged victorious.
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.