Coronavirus: Making the Adjustment (Final)
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Each Monday, Work Life Engagement has attempted to offer something that speaks to our shared experience, and hopefully offers some perspective. This is AU WorkLife: Making the Adjustment (final part):
Acclimation is broadly defined as the adjustment to a changing environment. Acclimatization often refers to adapting to multiple environmental changes. Both feel particularly descriptive right now.
A quick layman rephrasing might be: living in the space between how things were and how things are now. It’s a one sentence reduction that does not begin to describe everything that is happening in this “space”. It is the march of the unacclimated, our guides few, and duration unknown. Never so attuned, are we, to the words of every authority, health official, and comedian to wrestle perspective on these last 53 days beginning March 11, 2020, a day Wired Magazine declared that the Coronavirus “seemed to crystallize in the National Consciousness”.
History will tell the story of our adjustment in this space. Over these 53 days, our response has already reflected denial, minimizing, optimism, pessimism, faith, fear, loneliness, humor, vulnerability, and sacrifice. Each of us can point to a spokesperson for each voice, but at one time or another, we most likely have inhabited all of them within ourselves.
How does one manage this space?
It begins with a felt awareness that our personal acclimation is a simultaneous global acclimation. We have an innate capacity for friendship, love, and cooperation that at times may feel fractured or forgotten, but when activated, draws itself into the space of our acclimation and awakes in us a desire to sacrifice, love, and share our experience, so that others among us may find comfort.
One of the wonderful traits of humanity, according to Sociologist Nicholas Christakis, that separates us from other species is our “capacity for being charitable”. “We learn from each other, which is rare in the animal kingdom. We teach each other things.” It is a trait that points to our collective good, and makes me proud to be connected to an institution that fosters it.
Our “capacity for being charitable” is a differentiator that I cannot imagine came to humanity day one. Just as we were not overtly charitable on March 11, 2020, when our initial reaction was hoarding food, toilet paper, thermometers, and hand sanitizer. But in time, as the photographer, we adjust our focal length and aperture to take in a wider view and allow additional light to enter our frame. And as the light enters, what appeared as setbacks are illuminated as signs of making the adjustment:
Resistance and failure tell the story of what it means to do something hard;
Frustration is but a by-product of learning a new skill like connecting to a virtual private network (VPN), or giving the browser permission to use your camera for a video conference;
Social distancing is a way to show love;
Masking our face is not closing off, but an act of coming together;
Fear is the beginning of wisdom;
Isolation can be done in community;
Sharing what you have doesn’t mean you have less;
If you feel led, reply all with what you’ve learned, so that we may teach one another.