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Emerging from the Covid Crisis

April 28, 2020

For the first month of Covid 19, I woke up in the middle of the night wondering how we would survive it. Now, I wake up wondering about how we’ll survive it being over.

This past weekend, I found myself at 2:00 a.m., wide awake, thinking about the first friend I met in Key West, two decades ago. She was a brilliant recluse, much older, kinder and wiser than I.

Soon after we met, I realized she was someone I could confide in when I needed to talk about things: A bad date; an argument with my landlord; the ongoing struggle of whether or not to move permanently to Key West. She became my “Yoda.” I’d sit on her back porch, and work myself up into a frenzy, sharing my “saga.” She’d listen, for a bit, and then interrupt me with the refrain I knew was coming:

“Elisa,” she’d say calmly, while stroking one of the many stray cats she fed, “Get the lesson, not the pain.”

Every time she said that mantra, it would stop me in my tracks. “But I want to keep complaining,” I’d whine. She would ignore me and press on. “So, what’s the lesson?”
The lesson? Arggh! I just wanted to have a pity party; eat too much chocolate and wash it down with a glass of red wine the size of my head. But no. She wouldn’t have it. If I stayed long enough, I’d always end up processing the little nugget of wisdom or insight I learned, and how I planned to use it moving forward. I guess that’s why I kept coming back for more.

Fast forward 20 years to this past Saturday night. I was unable to sleep, and all I could hear in my head was “Elisa, get the lesson; not the pain.”

We were out of Reese’s peanut butter cups and there were no open bottles of red wine, so I begrudgingly got up, sat on the couch, and wrote down a few of my lessons from this crisis in hope that they might move me to a slightly better mental state.

  • Work less; play more. (As Lily Tomlin once said, “The problem with the rat race is that at the end of the race, you’re still a rat.”)
  • Watch someone you care about in silence for 5 minutes every day.
  • Forgive yourself, and you’ll be able to forgive others.
  • Meet people on their terms, not yours.
  • Stop meeting so many people. Spend more time alone.
  • The reason you find yourself in the same predicaments time and again is because you choose them. (So, choose something else.)
  • The planet is more forgiving and willing to heal than you’d ever imagined. What you do, (and don’t do), matters.
  • Even if we are healthy, we aren’t here for very long. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • Every healthy day should be spent in gratitude.
  • When all else falls away, the only thing that matters is love.


I guess I knew these already, but there’s a big difference between knowing something and internalizing it. It seems we may soon emerge from the most dangerous part of this pandemic. That mere thought floods me with gratitude. We will step back into the daylight of our lives, travel, hug, and work again. There are too many unknowns to predict how the world will look, but for sure it will be different. As we move further away from the pain of Covid 19, and get into our “new normal,” I just hope we can each remember the lessons, and hold on to them with both hands.

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