S1E23 Leaning into Change

S1E23 Leaning into Change

As we lean out of the pandemic things are going to change. I cope by leaning into them

I recently listened to a good podcast where the host discussed how all of us are likely to look back at the time we spent in 2020 with nostalgia. His premise was that we would look back on our time in quarantine with a longing feeling for the experience.

Quarantine had its moments, but it also just sucked. If being on house arrest was a good thing then it wouldn’t be considered a punishment by the federal government. Let’s be clear, we all basically got Martha Stewart’s punishment without the benefits of insider trading.

This podcast is small, but it’s still global. There are people all over the world who discover this show and take a listen. We have different experiences emerging out of the pandemic depending on our locations and our personal situation. In Australia lockdowns are still a thing. Reports as recent as July 17th show that Sydney’s government was tightening their lockdowns in response to COVID cases. If you’re trying to get to Canada today you’ll have to quarantine in a hotel of the government’s choosing for 14 days—even if you’re fully vaccinated.

In contrast, I live in Idaho. Masks were absolutely a thing in some spaces and for some activities, but not everywhere. As soon as the CDC publicly acknowledged they were unnecessary for the vaccinated we stopped seeing masks altogether. In some cases it was because the population was vaccinated. In other cases it’s because the population was enjoying the freedom to choose herd immunity.

Last week I had a talk with a nice lady who works around cattle. She informed me that we can all expect to get sick the more we mingle.

We see this with cows all the time. When we combine two herds that have been isolated most of the cattle will get sick. If we allow them to mingle our rate of illness goes down significantly.

Yesterday I got another lesson about how cows and humans can get the same illnesses. I learned about a cow who had contracted pink eye and I learned about 2 remedies for addressing the illness. The old farmers remedy involved opening the eyelids and covering it with clean sugar then closing the eyelids and aggressively rubbing the eye so the sugar granolas scrape off the diseased layer. The modern version still involves the painful scraping but includes a medicine that’s proven significantly more effective than sugar to scrape the eye as well as a shot that has to be injected into a fluid sack near the eyeball.

In both cases I’m not sure how you get the cow to cooperate. If I were on the receiving end I’d have a hard time cooperating with the procedure no matter how many times you could tell me that it was good for me.

There are some parts of the pandemic where I felt that was too. You could tell me a million times that being stuck in the house was good for me and for society at large, but for me that solution still felt like a painful remedy to deal with. Even with that pain there were some things I miss about the quarantine life. I really enjoyed going 2 months without putting gas in my car. I enjoyed taking lots of walks. I enjoyed not being busy.

I didn’t enjoy being forced into that situation and I’m not going to volunteer to live that way again.

So, we’ve been masks-off in Idaho for several weeks now and large parts of it feel really good. There’s also looming changes I’m not looking forward to on the horizon. Life is going to get busy again and my work expects all of us to be in the building full-time starting in September instead of alternating weeks in the building and at home.

It’s a change I’m not looking forward to.

Change is an odd bedfellow for me. As part of my profession I’m responsible to bring change to the organization. There are lots of changes I welcome and there are lots of changes I despise because I don’t appreciate being told what to do.

The communication about coming back to the building in September was more directive than collaborative. So, I’ve had more of a problem with this looming change than many of the others coming out of the pandemic. To my friends this seems odd. They see me as someone who likes change. I run the beta version of pretty much every application I use. On the Linux side I enjoy the nightly builds for Ubuntu. I’m running the MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS beta versions. I’m also running the early beta of Windows 11 and I run and insider version of Microsoft Office. When you run beta software you run with the uncertainty that something will fail while you’re trying to make progress.

PTSD is often related to anxiety and anxiety is often caused by uncertainty. So why do I embrace the uncertainty that comes from change in some areas and passionately despise it in others?

That was the question I had to ask myself repeatedly. After all, my choices didn’t make sense otherwise.

When I’m faced with cognitive dissonance my brain locks up and I spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to resolve the seemingly contradictory perspectives. I did the same thing here. Let’s be honest the pace at which I work through cognitive effects dissonance doesn’t feel like it moves quickly. This particular challenge felt like one that took weeks. If intelligence were measured on the time it takes to resolve cognitive dissonance I would be on the less intelligent end of the spectrum. 

What I realized is that in the digital space I’ve arranged my life to lean into the change and expect things to be challenging and disruptive. With this change to go back into the building I’ve decided to lean into the change will the full expectation that it will be disruptive and uncomfortable. There’s something about making the choice that makes all the difference. 

What choices are you facing that push you out of your comfort zone? What do you do to cope? I’d love to hear about it. You can use the comment feature wherever you find this show or email me at jacob@parkingthought.com.

I’ll be glad to hear from you and I’ll do my best to help us all remember that in a world where we can choose to be anything, why not choose to be grateful?

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