Second Middle Age & Coronavirus

It is safe to say that the Coronavirus has upended expectations and amplified fears of what will happen next in 2020.  We may have started out with ambitious plans for work or family in the new year, only to run headlong into the COVID-19 shut-down.  

A long-time friend and colleague recently sent me the following: 

“I have come across a new acronym which very appropriately describes our present situation. It is VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.”

Dr. Vijai Kumar, President and Chief Medical Officer, Excel Life Sciences

VUCA is an ugly acronym that is apt for our times.  

We have learned the distinctions between Coronavirus curfews, quarantine and the dreaded COVID-19 isolation (total separation of the side from the healthy within a family or living unit).  

What is worse, doctors and scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the Coronavirus and developing effective therapies or cures.  There is no vaccine and yet people condemn the future vaccine out of ignorance and fear.

The snail emerges from its shell when danger has passed.
A snail eventually emerges from its shell after danger has passed.

And if we are the lucky ones that have not been infected with COVID-19 or seen family members suffer or die from this serious illness, we may still suffer in the present and worry about the future.

The best public health practices (social distancing, wearing masks, etc.) come at a high cost – emotional, psychological and of course economic.

We ask ourselves – if I am not going to work/school and and stuck at home all day why can’t I at least do my yoga? (fill in the blank with whatever exercise or activity you have been avoiding  – you get the idea.)

So how can the lessons of Second Middle Age help us during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?

The reality is that when everyone is home, it changes everything. 

Living in the time of Coronavirus exacerbates our existing interpersonal, professional or financial problems. In my case, while there have been silver linings (more on that later), COVID-19 blocked my ability even to think about blogging.  Apart from occasional bursts on Instagram, I have not posted a single installment on between March 2 and today.

As one of the lucky ones, I am living in a place with a strong public health safety net, relatively low COVID casualties, and a gradual return to normalcy. And so I am back, thinking about what the lessons Second Middle Age, and how they may help me to navigate the profound uncertainties of the present and the future.  

What about you?  

Published by skfinston

Born February 21, 1961 in Detroit, Michigan; enjoying 2nd Middle Age in Zichron Yaakov, Israel. After a misspent youth in the US Foreign Service (postings in London, Tel Aviv and Manila), I moved to the Semi-private Sector, working for a leading trade association in Washington DC before launching my own company Finston Consulting in 2005. Over the last 15+ years I have worked with innovative companies ranging from Fortune-100 to start up, as well as NGOs, and governments, including service as a cleared advisor (Secret level) to the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative (IPR, Tariff/Trade Facilitation). As a graduate of the University of Michigan, my degrees include a Bachelors of Science (Philosophy, High Honors), Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Policy. After law school I clerked at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit before joining the U.S. Foreign Service (TSI-CodeWord Clearance). I am a member of the Illinois and US Supreme Court Bar.

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