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(For reading in Chinese, please scroll down to the end of the English text.)

(For international readers, allow me to explain: I am an American but I have lived in China since 2004. My city of Chongqing, often abbreviated as CQ, is pronounced Chong Ching to rhyme with Wrong Ring. CQ is a megacity of 30 million people in south-central China, on the Yangtze River.)

June 2020

From the 18th-Floor homestead

Currently, as we experience the annual joy of summer heat in CQ, the pandemic news from around the world is far from encouraging. To date, I have been spared any personal grief. We (wife, son, and me) are still safe and healthy. With some modifications, we have largely resumed our previous patterns. None of my family in America or in China has been stricken – so far, anyway. I have one friend (in England) who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus but she and her new baby had no subsequent illness. Then, last week, one of my expat friends in CQ received news of an old acquaintance in another country who had died of the virus. That is the extent of my personal experience with the virus. I hope to continue to keep bad news at a safe, impersonal distance. But I am worried that we are far from the end of this pandemic.

In thinking of how to deal with the current situation, I have decided to do two things:

1) I will continue to be diligent about personal hygiene and social distancing. Despite news reports and personal observations about people relaxing their vigilance and reverting to pre-pandemic behaviors, I will not let myself or my family become victims through carelessness or laziness. The famous American actor John Wayne said, “Life is hard; it’s even harder when you’re stupid.” As much as I can control myself and the people closest to me, we won’t be engaging in stupid, high-risk activities. Think of the pandemic as an IQ test; fail this test and you’re dead.

2) I will stop following the 24/7 stream of bad, depressing, alarming – and unreliable – news reports about the pandemic and its effects on the world and local economies. A few minutes each day for scanning headlines or listening to podcasts will be sufficient to make me aware of any imminent dangers and actual changes. Spending more than that small amount of time is only to satisfy morbid curiosity. My blood pressure is already high enough, thank you. I don’t need anything to make it worse. The pandemic is not like a roller coaster ride or a horror movie; those are adrenalin-producing, pay-per-view thrills that some people actually enjoy. But with the pandemic, it’s different. You don’t finish the movie or step off the roller coaster and snap back to your old reality. This pandemic experience is very real and does not have a definite ending in the near future. Thus, I have concluded my time will be better spent on things I can control and have a positive influence upon.

Below is part of an article published in March of 2019. It was only 15 months ago but we certainly live in a vastly changed world now. However, maybe the principle concept of keeping your priorities clear is as relevant as ever.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

I find it fascinating to examine all the things people consider important – but which are not truly important. Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden, was so curious about identifying the basic necessities of life that he spent two years living alone in a very small, primitive cabin he built in the forest so he could eliminate everything but the bare essentials. I hope you will review what you think is most important in your life, how you set your priorities, and how you spend your free time.

One way to decide what is “really important” comes from a story I heard on a podcast recently. The speaker was a lady who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The doctors told her that she had only a few months to live. She was very fortunate; thanks to modern medicine, a wonderful support system, an unwavering positive attitude, and good fortune, she defeated the cancer. However, after that experience, she says she doesn’t allow little things to upset her. When she meets someone who is worried, angry, or stressed about some minor incident in their life, her response is “Oh, really? Do you think that is so important that you should devote your time and energy to it? Really?” When she thought that she had only a short time to live, she decided that she had no time to waste on trivial matters. Even after her recovery from cancer, that experience still reminds her to recognize what is really important in her life.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

(June 2020 again)

Most of the Earth’s 7.8 billion people will survive the pandemic. The world economy will take a huge step backward but will recover and many new opportunities will become viable. We merely have to survive this period with persistence, confidence, reasonable behaviors, and forward movement – even if that movement is only in baby steps at times.

So, what is important in your life today? Really? Keep thinking and keep smiling.

Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

大流行病现实检查#1

2020年6月

从18楼的农家院

目前,当我们在CQ经历一年一度的夏日炎炎的喜悦时,来自世界各地的疫情消息却远非令人鼓舞。到目前为止,我个人没有受到任何悲痛的影响。我们(妻子、儿子和我)仍然安全健康。经过一些修改,我们已经基本恢复了以前的模式。我在美国或中国的家人都没有受灾–反正到目前为止。我有一个朋友(在英国),她的Covid-19病毒检测呈阳性,但她和她的新生儿没有后续疾病。然后,上周,我在CQ的一位外籍朋友收到了另一个国家的老熟人死于该病毒的消息。这就是我个人对病毒的经历。我希望继续与坏消息保持安全的、非个人的距离。但我担心,我们离这场大流行病的结束还很远。

在思考如何应对当前形势时,我决定做两件事。

1)我将继续勤于搞好个人卫生和社会距离。尽管有新闻报道和个人观察,人们放松了警惕,恢复到流行前的行为,但我不会让自己和家人因粗心或懒惰而成为受害者。美国著名演员约翰-韦恩说过:”生活很艰难,当你愚蠢的时候,生活更艰难”。只要我能控制自己和最亲近的人,我们就不会从事愚蠢的高风险活动。把流行病当成一场智商测试,这次测试不合格,你就死定了。

2)我将不再关注24小时不间断的关于疫情及其对世界和当地经济影响的糟糕、令人沮丧、令人震惊–且不可靠的新闻报道。每天花几分钟时间扫描头条新闻或听播客,就足以让我意识到任何迫在眉睫的危险和实际变化。花费更多的时间,只是为了满足病态的好奇心。我的血压已经够高了,谢谢你。我不需要任何东西让它变得更糟。大流行病不像过山车或恐怖片,那些都是产生肾上腺素的、付费的刺激,有些人其实很喜欢。但对于大流行病,就不同了。你不会看完电影,也不会从过山车上走下来,然后猛然回到原来的现实。这种大流行的体验是非常真实的,而且在不久的将来也不会有一个明确的结局。因此,我的结论是,我的时间将更好地花在我可以控制和有积极影响的事情上。

以下是2019年3月发表的一篇文章的一部分。这仅仅是15个月前的事情,但我们现在肯定生活在一个变化巨大的世界里。然而,也许保持你的优先事项明确的原则概念和以往一样相关。

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我发现,研究人们认为重要的所有事物–但这些事物并不真正重要–是很有吸引力的。《瓦尔登》的作者亨利-戴维-梭罗对确定生活的基本必需品非常好奇,他花了两年时间独自生活在森林里建造的一个非常小的原始小屋里,这样他就可以消除一切,但最基本的必需品除外。我希望你能检讨一下,在你的生活中,你认为什么是最重要的,你如何设定你的优先事项,以及你如何度过你的空闲时间。

决定什么是 “真正重要的 “的一种方法来自于我最近在一个播客中听到的一个故事。演讲者是一位被诊断为第四阶段癌症的女士。医生告诉她,她只剩下几个月的生命了。她是非常幸运的;由于现代医学、良好的支持系统、坚定不移的积极态度和好运,她战胜了癌症。然而,经过那次经历,她说她不允许小事让她难过。当她遇到有人因为生活中的一些小事而担心、生气、紧张时,她的回答是 “哦,是吗?你认为这很重要,你应该把时间和精力投入到这上面去吗?真的吗?”。当她想到自己只有短暂的生命时,她决定没有时间浪费在小事上。即使在她从癌症中康复后,这段经历仍然提醒她要认清生命中真正重要的东西。

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(2020年6月再次)

地球上78亿人中的大多数将在这场大流行病中幸存下来。世界经济将出现巨大的倒退,但会复苏,许多新的机会将变得可行。我们只需用坚持、信心、合理的行为和前进的步伐–即使这种运动有时只是小步快跑,也要挺过这段时期。

那么,在你今天的生活中,什么是重要的?真的是什么?保持思考,保持微笑。

One Reply to “Pandemic Reality Check #1”

  1. You are so right in this post, Randy. We should learn not to sweat the small stuff (that is a NZ expression for ignoring trivial trials and tribulations.) It is also sensible to stop constantly following all the bad news. There are some sad and awful things happening out there and we need to know that, but not 24 hours a day. The world will survive this, but will humanity learn from it? On my positive days I hope so. On my realistic days I’m not so sure.
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    (From Randy)
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Lyn. I have to agree with you that it is doubtful humanity will learn from this experience – although this pandemic may remove some of those who persist in denying the reality of this highly inconvenient truth. We cannot force people to think; we can only give them information and encouragement… then take care of those closest to us.

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