COVID: The Metamorphoses

Given the recent need to lock ourselves in our rooms, obsessively wash our hands and wear makeshift masks at all hours lest we end up bloated meat pouches in garbage bags on refrigerated trucks, you may feel the urge to withdraw from your normal activities a bit. It can be tempting, for the weaker among us, to slip into a downward spiral of day drinking, binge watching “Tiger King” and wearing the same smelly sweatpants for weeks on end.

Dear friends, we are made of sterner materials. This mere virus, this remorseless killer, this invisible harvester of human souls, cannot be allowed to disrupt our way of life. To the contrary, this crisis is our time to shine. It’s the perfect opportunity to do all the things you never had time for back when people had careers and social lives, and to do all those things at once, now that you have a brief respite from working around the clock for your entire adult life. To be idle in this moment is to let this haunted goldmine go unplundered.

We Americans did not invent hard work, but we perfected it. We fashioned the very concept of work into a great and powerful sledgehammer; one that makes a sticky, wet paste of anything caught underneath it. We cannot abandon that legacy simply because everyone we ever knew could easily be dead soon. If anything, our current situation should push us to work harder. Your credo, whether you like it or not, is: never stop achieving!

For example, you could take this opportunity to increase your own marketability by learning a foreign language or two. Only about 15% of all Americans speak a second language, and the percentage is even smaller here in the Middle-West. Another tongue could come in handy in a dozen years or so when English dies out, or in a few weeks when you have to pass as a francophone so as to cross into Canada with your very expensive fake passport. Memorize how to say the world’s favorite phrase, “we should get together when this is all over with,” in several languages. Or just learn your credo: N’arrêtez jamais de réaliser!

Those who would panic over this temporary total loss of income simply lack the entrepreneurial focus to imagine the new avenues for income that COVID-19 will create. We must look upon the hundreds of thousands of deaths to come as opportunity, not tragedy. Start a small business. Better yet, start three small businesses and hope one survives for more than six months. Perhaps you could launch a virtual funeral parlor, invent shoes that disinfect the ground six feet in front of you, or lease a refrigerator truck and arrange for curbside pickup. ¡Nunca dejes de lograr!

Additionally, this is your chance to get yourself physically fit. I can think of no excuse – and I mean not a single one – for failing to exercise two or three times a day. There are many fitness opportunities out there that you can pursue from the discomfort of your own living room. You know how those smart-ass yoga teachers are always telling you that someday you’ll be able to touch your toes to the crown of your head in a backbend or some absurd thing? Now’s your chance. It won’t be enough just to lose your extra weight by crying out all your excess water or by living on canned beets for a few months. Take a Zumba class on Zoom. Start a Hacky Sack league on Microsoft Teams. Find a workout buddy on Hangouts and dry-cough your way to washboard abs. Kamwe usisitishe kufanikiwa!

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Many people are turning to independent living strategies, not out of paranoia over the dystopian zombie movie that America is about to become, but so as to save money and observe proper social distancing. Why not start a vegetable garden? Raise chickens? Learn to sew so you can make decorative masks and body bags for your sanitized handful of remaining friends? Write your own laws? Design and print your own currency? Discover ways of shitting safely into your empty Amazon boxes, preserving as much fecal matter as possible for building makeshift “mud” huts for you and your family? Also, you could learn to make incense. Không bao giờ ngừng đạt được!

Remember that self-care is important during these trying times, and with all due respect, you are a stupid, lazy motherfucker if you do not seize this opportunity to engage in some spiritual development. Read the Bible every morning and the Quran every night. Meditate every day, without fail. Control your breath. Levitate if you’re up for it. There are no limits except those you make for yourself. Underneath that dried-out husk of a skin you are wearing is a vibrant, pulsating 13-year periodical cicada, ready to munch on some crops and herald catastrophe in bold new ways. Asla başarmayı bırak! 

Do not confuse this advice, however, with a license to ponder the imponderables of your existence, to wit: Is there a better way to do things? Must I spend my whole life chasing paychecks? Should we be striving to achieve something, anything, every waking moment of my life? Am I really going to cough myself to death having never unlocked the mysteries of life, or visited Australia, or met my grandchildren? If you’ve done your spiritual work adequately, you know that every major religion teaches the dignity of doing your job and not asking too many damn questions. Никогда не прекращайте достигать!

The future is rife with potential, and you have to make it happen. Work hard. Take your vitamins. Shift paradigms. Lean in. Get to yes. Win friends and influence people. Think and grow rich. Move someone’s cheese. Develop at least seven habits that make you highly effective. Cram all of these things into your newly unbusy schedule now while you have the chance. Soon we’ll be back to normal, no matter how ludicrous “normal” might be. When we get through this, things will be the same as they were, the same as they always were, the same as they will be forever. On devrait se retrouver quand tout c’est fini! ¡Deberíamos reunirnos cuando todo esto termine! Wacha tuungane wakati haya yote yameisha! Chúng ta nên gặp nhau khi chuyện này kết thúc! Tüm bunlar bittiğinde bir araya gelelim! Давайте вместе, когда все это x закончится! •

Dan Canon is a civil rights lawyer and law professor. “Midwesticism”is his short-documentary series about Midwesterners who are making the world a better place. Watch it at: patreon.com/dancanon.

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