How to find perspective on the pandemic: adapt or die

April 12, 2021

adaptIt is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent.

It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
~Charles Darwin

Congratulations! A year into the pandemic and so many of us have managed to survive this major disruption to our way of life.

My heart breaks for those who have suffered loss due to Covid. I know it seemed like Covid victims died without the comfort of loved ones, but I hope you can trust that they did not die alone–that loved ones on the other side came to welcome them home. It is little comfort for those of us left behind, I know. We miss them. So love and condolences to you all.

My heart also breaks for kids with special needs (even if not “official”), whose needs for routine, socialization, special educational attention have not been met due to pandemic restrictions. That is terrible. 

A year ago, we had no idea what was ahead of us. What we would learn.  The biggest lesson I see from this horrible situation is that we were called upon to adapt. It was an opportunity. Those of us who could see it that way and found creative ways to adapt, managed through more successfully. Those who pissed and moaned their way through are still pissing and moaning. 

Adaptability is key to survival, Charles Darwin pointed out almost 200 years ago and it’s true. Rising to the occasion.

adaptAdapting was a bit easier this past year because of technology. Zoom and online meet-ups kept so many of us safely connected. While we missed hugs and human touch, we were able to laugh and be joyful with our loved ones on a regular basis.

Educators had an opportunity to show their commitment to their profession and be creative in lesson planning and teaching. I admire those who did. Those who took the easy way out? No respect.

Parents had a particular challenge. If they worked, trying to do that at home and take care of their kids took special energy and even creativity. It was also an opportunity to build or reinforce resilience in their children. I know some parents are lamenting that kids are suffering because they couldn’t go to school, prom, play sports. “Kids are suffering,” I have heard and that really raises my eyebrows.  I believe these parents need to get a little perspective.

Kids who are food insecure, without shelter,  abused, in cages or sick are suffering. THAT is suffering. Kids who can’t cheer, dance at prom or throw a football are not suffering. They may not be doing what they’d like to be doing, but that is not “suffering.”

For perspective, I go back to World War II and the Greatest Generation. 

adaptI am certain Anne Frank would have preferred to be in school and not hidden in a closet to keep from being killed by Nazis. That? That’s suffering.  Her hope and resilience in the face of such horrors continues to be an inspiration all these years later. Kids in a warm home with plenty to eat and loving parents –but who can not do their normal activities? No comparison.

No one can deny the suffering of those in concentration camps. Still, so many of us know or have known those who were in camps as teens who went on to have families of their own and live productive lives. These people define resilience and adaptability.

World War II parents managed to make loving homes during while fathers were at war, food and gas were rationed and in some countries, bombs were dropped unexpectedly at any time, day and night. Women worked in jobs men once held.  Yes, there were latchkey kids.  I am certain that children were traumatized by the sound of air raid horns and the need to scurry to shelter. So were adults.

What happened? They built resilience, that’s what they did. They adapted. And most managed to live productive and happy lives aferwards.

Kids in our world? Most of them are very privileged. Can’t deny it.

adaptWhen I use the perspective of history, I simply can not appreciate the view of those who think kids in our world are suffering because they can’t go to prom.

I don’t have kids. I’ve had stepkids and I have nephews/nieces. But I do not have kids of my own. I am confident, though, if I did, I would have used this pandemic as an opportunity to help my children build resilience and creativity.

Kids reflect what they see at home. I would have helped mine gain perspective on what suffering really is and find ways to thrive and be happy, even with the restrictions the pandemic forced on families.

As a former educator, I would have worked hard to find creative lesson plans and ways to engage my students in an online learning environment. Because it would’ve been an opportunity for me to contribute and show my own commitment to my profession.

Some of us today are not very resilient or adaptable. We feel entitled to our very privileged world and when some of it’s taken from us, however temporary, we complain about the situation.

If you are a covid long-hauler, bemoan away. You have plenty to be sad about. If you lost a family member to Covid? Your grief is real. Necessary, even.  If you lost your income due to the pandemic? You have reason to be upset.

But if your kid can’t go to prom? 

I am just not sympathetic to your grief.


9 comments on “How to find perspective on the pandemic: adapt or die
  1. I agree that resilience is the key, you’ve also got me thinking about how much easier being resilient has been for me than for so many others.

  2. Adela says:

    I’m with you, Carol. I think about all the great writers that spent a childhood in isolation because of illness. No TV, no internet, no video games, nothing to keep them connected but books and imagination.

    I am saddened by the losses we’ve all suffered. Last week was the one year anniversary of a dear friend and colleagues death. One of the first during the pandemic. A youngish man, with teenage daughters. This week, I wiped away a tear when I newscaster told us about his mother’s death in India; a funeral he could not attend.

    We’ll get through this, and on the other side, we’ll be better for it.

    • Yes, that is what I consider real loss. I am so sorry for them. I just can’t see postponing our privileges as a loss. Can not. I think I did better than some i know in isolation because I found ways to adapt and I didn’t spend time trying to flout the rules or bemoaning what was lost. I faced reality and built a bit of a different life and some of it will last the rest of my life. I just wish others could find a different path, too.

  3. Diane says:

    I believe in difficulties. They help our mental and emotional muscles grow. Some experiences are very hard. That’s when we grow the most. I pray for all who have suffered.
    But I am SO in agreement with your conclusion. There is suffering. And then there is SUFFERING. Being denied an activity is merely an inconvenience. Being denied basic human needs is the true tragedy. Thank you for this much-needed perspective!

  4. laurie stone says:

    I feel like about 30% of our population can’t change. They can’t adapt to masks, social distancing, or being more cautious. Not sure what will happen to them, but hopefully the rest of us will survive Covid.

  5. Alana says:

    I’m with you, Carol. Even my autistic brother in law (who survived COVID), who finds it hard to adapt to change due to his disability, adapted, and did us all proud. COVID took away almost every activity he enjoyed, and kept him a prisoner in his supportive apartment for months as he regained full lung function. I feel strongly for the children who lost family members (or continue to care for family members with Long-COVID) not so much the ones whose families remained healthy and employed. This epidemic was a rude awakening for many in our country and it seems many still don’t “get it” and continue to wear out and burn out the medical professionals charged to treat them when they become sick. How disrespectful is that????

  6. John Gatesby says:

    For me, the worst part was to deal with being confined in the home for long periods, though I loved spending quality time with the family but not being able to go out, socialize,visit shopping malls and even travel. Top that with constant wearing of mask, social distancing and sanitize me. But got adjusted to this new normal, waiting for the old normal to emerge though.

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