Southern California, April 2020

How Quickly Life Changes…

Our lives will never be the same. So… What now?

Our lives will never be the same. God, what a cliché line if there ever was. We have read this line in books. We have watched our favorite movies, or movies we could care less about, use this cliché in its scripts. Our lives. Your lives. Your life.

It’s true, though. I mean, we will look back and remember those days of March 2020, the last days of this and that, the last days of certain routines, the days ahead of flights we booked, of car rides we planned, of concerts we would attend, of sports we would watch, of work trip, and work assignments, and gatherings, and meals, and workout plans and… The word ‘and’ goes on and on. It is currently Good Friday (wait, is that the oldest cliché in history?) and I have completed watching the documentary on the 20 year history of Coachella, cramming my brain to what performances I witnessed, what memories I have of where I was, when, or who I was with for which performances. And I am watching… crowds. Lots and lots of crowds. Endless bodies watching and listening to performance art. Then my mind wanders more; it is the spring of 2020, and our lives “will never be the same.” So where is mine right now? Well my body is sitting in a chair, in my office (I am ALONE. Please, no shaming) and I have started to break down my existence on this planet and, as it stands, it breaks down pretty cleanly over 4 decades: my child years of the 80's, my youth experience of the 90's, my maturity of the 00's, and my mental and physical peaks of the 10's. It is a new decade, and one that “will never be…” Oh please, we knew this was going to be different, right? We saw this coming, didn’t we? We lived taking SO much for granted, did we not? We now live in the time of a pandemic, and, by the numbers, one that will go down, 100 years from now, as the most morbid pandemic of modern eras. History will not be kind, either. All of this technology! All of this communication! All of these people, connected! We are incredibly prepared for disasters except… We were not prepared, at all.

My rant has the ability to slide down the pole of politics, and certainly go in ways of who did what right, who did what wrong, and how many fingers to point in the directions of those accountable for not acting or preparing for what this moment has become. I’m not into it. This is my rant, and my rant is more about letting my fingers release the stimulants within my brain that cannot seem to stop bouncing into one another to figure out exactly what life will be when this is over. My rant is the balance of trying to stay in the moment, to stay in a place between two lanes, and yet look at the overall picture as to what the future will be and where we will go from here. There’s a yin and yang to this aspect, there is fear and hope, excitement and staying quiet as each day transpires, as the news seems to get worse, as each day takes us one day closer to the end of this long, dark tunnel. I look forward to findings that will be exciting, that will be new breathes of clean oxygen, that will fill my lungs, enthrall my heartbeat, take my mind to places it wants to go versus places it currently resides.

Life… Will never be the same (dammit!). So, I look back, quickly. The 80's, America was bliss on the core, but bubbling under the surface, and we would learn the wide cast of characters REALLY were not who they were… Leaving names aside we did have HIV… AIDS. Our world would change, and it would do so in dramatic fashion. There will always be fear of HIV, and we will have it in our lexicon until it is… cured? I digress, we do not have a cure, and we still have a fear. Now, the producers of entertainment dig deep into the 80s and procure ideas to spawn future generations to see ‘how cool’ it was to be a person of the 80's.

Well the 80's sauntered into the 90's and the New World Order, so to speak, was not bubbling on the surface, but lingering in the air. That said the 90's, for my generation, for those who loved music, loved causes, who were running along the median line of making enough money to survive but certainly too young and dumb to know what to do with it, were enjoying the fruits of the creative. We wave the 90's banner. Bring on the 00's! We see your change of century, and we will raise you these coins, just to show our might, and how we are ready, and this will be a new and glorious decade. We lived through Y2K, we saw the turn of the century, we saw a transition from the old to the brand new, to what the future would possibly have in store, for our coins to purchase. We were all witnesses to amazing spectacles, to jubilation beyond possible expectations, to the loftiest expectations set down by the space between our ears. We were so ready for new opportunities, new adventures, new challenges. I, personally, made a whole new career turn, taking my aspirations into a different industry. I decided ‘why not’ when I was presented with a brand-new opportunity, and didn’t even wait for the change of the century, I made my moves just prior. I would see a few more changes and challenges; they excited me, they kept me on my toes. As a whole, we kept building, moving with pace, moving towards common and personal goals, and nothing was going to stop us and… 9/11.

We lost lives. We lost civil liberties. We came together, for a moment, to know that we would rebuild. We would be stronger, smarter! We will pick ourselves up and do what we do best: Be Americans. We are rebuilding, we are growing from the ashes, we are finding our purpose, we are moving along in a forward progression and why is that house on the corner a million dollars? Ignore that, reap the awards of this bountiful economy! This will continue on! Take in this glorious time and… Crash. We will limp into a new decade, we will save big companies but not small ones and we will… Start over, again.

A new decade takes its early form, with a slow running start but once again, we push forward, we see incredible technology, we see more companies, more opportunities and we see our childhood idols turn… Well, that was something the masses didn’t expect. We see a decade of speed. Our lives simply move, faster. Are we better? Of course, we are! We can handle anything that is thrown our way but we need to communicate minutely on these forces that live under the banner entitled social media. This is where we always wanted to be! Sharing endless, important information and… Cat Videos! Dick Picks (oh we were sharing those long before technology was apparent) and our opinions of what the proper tomato soup is, or why this leader is not equipped to run a country! Our speed of life was insurmountable. Surely, what could possibly get in the way of the incredible lives so many of us are leading going into this new decade?

A Pandemic. A fucking Pandemic.

So, here we are. The freeways, quiet. The air, cleaner. The trees, mountains, fields are lush, green, bountiful, full of life. The space around us, while filled with a virus, lives with a stronger heartbeat. There is our technology. We share these spring holidays, not in-person or in mass gatherings, but through lenses; screenshots of images of groups separated by walls and cities, wires and numbers, 5G and so on. We live in a place where, if we have the ability to think of ‘it’, ‘it’ is actually an app, on our phone. ‘It’ is a website. ‘It’ is a place, somewhere on the internet. The act of thinking is far more superior online than in our minds. Anything is possible! Look where we have come from! We’re here. Living through times where something that naked eye doesn’t even have the ability to see will ultimately wipe out a percentage number of humans and take them to large burials, no different than generations who lived through times of wars and plagues. Weren’t we supposed to be better than this? We were not the generations who survived wars, terrorism, multiple tries at smaller viruses that we took on and didn’t let grow in systemic breakdowns such as this pandemic. We’re we smarter? Read all of the information, watched the Ted Talks, listened to the humans smarter than us, warned us of what might happen without preparation? Alas, we were not. Again, fingers… Pointing… Useless. We’re here. We’re sick. We’re dying. We’re locked up within 4 walls, or maybe 400 walls (I am guessing that is Jay and Bey’s home), sharing videos, doing at-home workouts, sharing little droplets of thoughts and guidance (and certainly not sharing droplets of saliva) to help others cope. And still… People are dying. This isn’t 1918! How is this possible? Well, not only is it possible, when you do the math, we have more humans now, than we did in 1918. I know? Look at my big brain working!

I have found the practice of minimization to work for me. I wake up. I work. I get a workout of some sort in. I watch one of the 5 shows I have started to binge (I am not good at binging although I did do this with Succession and the Vietnam War documentary), and then I sleep. The hardest part? The sleep. As minimal as my mind is working at this moment to avoid the larger, deeper, scarier thoughts, when the REM period is going into effect, my mind is a wild octopus, dancing and pinning in the water to avoid any of the dark creatures that may want a piece. I will certainly live in this routine for much longer. It was extended an hour ago to May 15th. We will have lived almost half of 2020 and the majority of that in isolation. Heavy thoughts, pass on those.

Hope? Hope is what comes out of this. I have always enjoyed the photography and video of Chernobyl, in its current state. The Earth seized over the damage, and made its own life. In essence, we will do much of the same, and, well, Earth will either embrace, or give us a really quick reminder who is boss. We were destroying Earth, and that isn’t a political statement, that’s just a “wow look how clean the air is now, duh” statement. All I know is what I do not know, and that is we do not have an end date, we do not have a vaccine, we do not have a cure, and we do not have knowledge what where we go from here. We have never been here. So, when we come to that point, and when the time is right, we will come out. We will come out the same way we came out of 9/11, or 2008, or the World Wars, or the past pandemics and plagues. We will arrive to a new world, and we will reminisce of the past, and we will move forward to something new. Expectations? Leave those in February of 2020. They have burned and frayed, and no longer valid. What should anyone bring? Bring the senses that have been revitalized by this pandemic. The sense of the smell of the Earth and land. The sound of the quiet of long road, and what it is like to listen for noises otherwise treated as background noise. The sights of empty spaces that will begin to crowd. We will speak with a new tongue, and we will touch in ways we didn’t appreciate before. We will start from scratch, from the soil, dark, wet, clumped together, to swallow seeds, and help create growth of a new plant, a new tree, a new lifeform. Our eyes will look outward to a new landscape, to a new light that shines in our eyes, to new aspects that our senses will discover, many of which were there all along. We let life run ahead of us, always playing catch up. Now, we’re caught up… As life hit the wall and completely stopped. Now, once we shake off the dirt, dust, and injuries from the force of how hard and how fast we hit the wall, we will learn that the wall was there the whole time, we just were never truly prepared to actually run into it.

And in all of this, our lives… Well… Yeah… Never to be the same.

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Brian Scott Gross

Brian Scott Gross

Brian Gross, President of BSG PR, has been in the service of media and public relations for over 27 years.