• Karen

What does your after look like?

Updated: Apr 12

There’s a scene in the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks rom-com You’ve Got Mail, where the character Joe Fox is trapped in an elevator. This tiny brush with mortality has Joe, and all those trapped in the elevator with him, pondering what they will do with their lives, “If I ever get out of this elevator…” The characters are rescued, presumably by the New York Fire Department, and Joe leaves his clueless and obnoxious girlfriend a few hours later, having decided his life was heading in the wrong direction.

Whether you love this very 1990’s movie, or feel it puts a positive spin on some really negative relationship behaviors, you can probably relate to this scene. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, it’s not hard to imagine being stuck in a frightening situation and taking stock of your life. The way we are now.

The Covid 19 pandemic will end. How we’ll get there will largely be determined by our individual actions, the leadership (or lack thereof) in our communities and nations, and scientific facts we can’t out run. Eventually though, we will get out of the elevator. Perhaps we will exit into a world we barely recognize. And perhaps we will have had some serious time for self-reflection while on lock down.

Like Joe Fox in the movie, at this point I am wishing I had a clear idea of my after – the life I want and need when I emerge from this pandemic imposed isolation, but I’m not there yet. This time of upheaval has forced me to examine everything in my life and career, and I’m not sure yet what to do with my revelations. The way different colleges behaved when we got the first inklings of impending disaster let me know how they felt about me and my students. The way my friends and loved ones have reacted to social distancing, the fears and concerns of others, and the news, has given me some important insights into my relationships.

I’m going to be using this time at home to plan for my after – the next steps. Let me know if you’d like to join a group or class or discussions on this as I’ve got some stuff in the works. Let’s get ready to step off the elevator and find our new lives.

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