I love that little phrase. It comes from southern Ontario where I live and has been turned into an ongoing joke on one of my favourite shows about rural Ontario culture and friendship, called Letterkenny. The ritual answer to this question is “Notso bad ‘n’you?” or “Good ‘n’you?”
These days though, whew. We need another response.
I haven’t blogged since June. I feel like I’ve been working harder and more intensively than I have at any time during my consulting career. I have clients in different parts of the world so some days I’m up at 4am, or on calls late into the evening. I’m getting jetlagged without leaving my home.
I’m noticed a deep tiredness in my brain not just from the screen time, but from the intensity of maintaining concentration when my conversation partners are small squares in an undifferentiated mass. I think when I’m working with groups I tend to focus on one person at a time, and there is never a time when I am making eye contact with 25 people at once. Mentally, I’m forgetting things. My short term memory is full of holes. As one client said yesterday, I work a whole day online, turn off my computer and can’t remember a single thing I have done. The abrupt nature of the transition between states is jarring. We are not made for this, and I’m not sure we are adjusting, but rather just wearing ourselves down.
Everything takes longer, there is more anxiety about the future, everything feels more high stakes, maybe because no one really knows what to do, what’s going to happen, or how to make it through this moment into whatever is coming next.
Many folks I work with are feeling this same fatigue and anxiety, somehow familiar and also strange. And this isn’t REALLY suffering at all.
I am working. My job has simply moved online. I continue to be paid for my work. I live in a place that has been minimally touched by COVID-19, where it is easy to be outside and to practice physical distancing. I am not sick, I am not out of money, my children are grown adults and look after themselves. I am not suffering.
Increasingly though I am working with folks who are in deep grief. Their lives are continuing and their anxiety is only increasing. They are worried about schooling their kids, they have lost jobs or been forced to take new ones, exposing them to a higher risk of getting sick. Our government benefits programs are expiring and the hope I had at the beginning of the pandemic, for a compassionate public policy leading to a universal basic income seems to have been high jacked by whatever usual suspects make policies that punish the poor and the marginalized and let the rich ride.
People I know have died from COVID. Others have developed chronic health conditions ranging from hair loss to heart problems. Friends are in the streets in different countries protesting injustices, trying to be heard, trying to grasp ahold of enough power to remake their societies in a just and equitable way. The political rhetoric fuelled by rage, wedge political marketing, creeping fascism and bots has made the democratic commons a toxic, angry, anxious laden space of backlash and retribution.
We are losing our minds.
So how’re ya now? What are you doing to hang on? Are you able to think about what comes next? Are you placing your hope on something? What do you need? What can you offer?