David had his Goliath, Neo his Mr. Smith, and we (and the world-at-large)...Covid 19. Like any successful unrelenting opponent, Covid, like a grand Chess master, has forced us to have to move, shift, and constantly be ready to adjust our position at any moment in time. The world has changed and there's no getting around it. In cinematic movie terms, it has become like "Outbreak" and "Contagion" meets "The Purge" and we, have gone from being mere movie spectators to actual real world participants. Uncertainty rather than stability seems to have become our perpetual "BFF" and if you listen to the daily news reports it would appear that this Shakespearean partnership will remain this way for some time.
Both my wife and myself, like many book businesses around the world, have had to continually re-think as well as re-structure our fledgling book publishing business in ways we never would have imagined a year ago. Unpredictable Lockdowns, quarantines, travel bans, school closures, devastating storms, power outages and pop-up massive civil protests across key places we needed to visit, have even made us seriously question whether or not remaining stateside for the long haul is truly the best option for our children. The idea of targeted book launches and book touring (especially our plans to tour abroad) have for us, become somewhat like an elusive apparition appearing momentarily only to vaporize once we've caught site of it. This new norm which is actually "no norm" has (literally 6 times) shifted several book projects originally slated to be released this year, to "now" having to be released in Spring /Summer of 2021.
Initially, for the first couple of months we thought (like millions of others) that the pandemic would simply breeze by like a passing wind or the Flu, and be no more than a minor hinderance. We assumed, from a financial perspective, that all of our book touring and traveling plans would not seriously be compromised, at least not that much. But like many who assumed the same thing, we were wrong....and "Oh Boy" how wrong we were!!
Like a KO'd boxer going down for the count, cancellation after cancellation flooded our email inboxes and venues which we were scheduled to attend in person simply were cancelled or put off and "tentatively" scheduled for some time far into 2021. For a minute, and a brief one at that, disappointment became somewhat of our daily bread. But as my dearly departed Mom used to say..."Sometimes during the most disheartening moments in life a kernel of opportunity can be found. There's always an upside in almost every situation "IF" you're willing to look hard enough to find it".
[Isn't it funny, when you're younger and your parents say such things you don't even give it a second thought. But as you get older and life starts to.....let's just say kick you in the butt, you literally start to remember just about everything your parents said.]
At first, the only thing we could see or rather thought about were the financial losses; both realized and the potential ones from cancellations and international travel bans, but like everything else, thankfully worrying has somewhat of a shelf life and is soon replaced by something else. In our case, it was trying to figure out how to safely and quickly get our twin teenagers back into the United States from a year long study abroad program they had been attending in Italy.
After pushing the pause button regarding everything we were doing, I started to slowly remember what my Mom used to say about going through tough times and finding an upside. As we started to search we started to find them one after the other. One of the many upsides we came across was simply having more time to conduct forensic styled "deep dives" into our book projects and marketing & promotional platforms. Things like bouncing book ideas off of our twin teenagers even began to become a family fun time source of inspiration. But of all the upsides Covid had presented to us, especially for me, I have to say one of the best was the wonderful birthday gift of a vintage typewriter my beautiful wife gave to me. It reinvigorated my love for vintage "old school" sustainable technology. By opting to type some of my first drafts manually on a typewriter, it forced me to have to slow down and really think about how to effectively articulate the thoughts I wanted to convey on the page. In our "do everything quickly, shortcuts are better," fast-paced society, doing things like this are simply unheard of. Slowing down purposely and taking the time to "think" about your thoughts one thought at a time, for many, would be akin to mental waterboarding. For me, especially as I see the Pandemic infection rates rise uncontrollably in my local area, this "one thought at a time" meditative-like process, has engendered a calming sense of peace and stability.
Without consciously realizing it, I started to notice that this "slowed" pace seemed to enrich my communication style with my family as well as became quite therapeutic and relaxing for some reason. After like a 15-45 minute typing session, I'd feel quite relaxed. Could it have been as the song says..."just my imagination"?...possibly. Either way I found engaging in the creative writing process like this way more enjoyable than I had ever experienced before.
Yes, it goes without saying that Covid has forced change into our lives in ways we could not have imagined just 9 short months ago. And yes, many of those changes are downright unpleasant; physically, emotionally, socially, financially, etc. But, upon reflection and after some serious deep DEEP meditative thought and perspective shifting, I've found that the impacts which Covid have brought to our doorstep both challenging and worrisome, yet equally transformative. I can now see the upside and the little nuggets of transformative opportunities lying hidden, deep within this modern day Greek tragedy known as Covid....I just had to look deep enough to find them.