The great dilemma of life during a lockdown: react or respond?

‘There’s two hours of my life that I’ll never get back,’ I thought, as I pulled out of the Costco parking lot.

On Friday, I spent an hour snaking my way through a line-up outside the Guelph location for the privilege of bulk buying. After another hour trying to find things in Costco—a great challenge for me—I checked out.

On my way home, I thought about the time wasted just to get groceries, and how shopping had become an ordeal.

Yes, I know … the Sturm and Drang, the imposition, the wasting of MY VALUABLE TIME! 

Millions of people are dealing with much worse. I read a heartbreaking email this week from a friend that quoted an EMT who spoke about rushing an elderly man to hospital who could barely breathe. The EMT said, ”I listened as his wife said, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘I love you’ for most likely the last time.”

There’s something to deal with. 

But every day, in dealing with this virus, the threat it poses, and the challenges it presents, we are all faced with choices.

The wisest nugget that I’ve encountered about making choices comes from concentration camp survivor Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Our response is the action that we take. Not the emotions that we feel in the moment. They just happen. When I learned recently that a contract was indefinitely put on hold, I was bummed. 

I had could have reacted by railing against the world, throwing a book at the wall, and opening a bottle of wine at 11 a.m.  

As Frankl noted, I could choose a response—one that provides me with freedom. One that allows me go forward, take control, make the best of the situation, and do the best I can.

What are you doing when you’re faced with the choices that the virus is presenting you?

I’m investigating different ways to make revenue. One response has been to dive back into writing. I’m working on completing a couple books that have been on the back burner for too long. 

I also faced at choice when I arrived at Costco around 10 a.m. last Friday. I saw the line of people running across the front of the building actually started behind the warehouse. (That’s what Costco people call the store.) 

I started walking along the line. A few people looked at me, smiled and shrugged. They were cool with lining up.

When I settled in as the last person in the line, I fidgeted. I considered coming back at a more strategic time.

Screw it. I decided to stay. Within a few seconds, the line in front of me lurched forward about 20 feet. ‘Progress.’ And then a man walked past and stood behind me. Now, he was the last man in line. 

We introduced ourselves as Steve and Tim. For over an hour as we inched forward, we prattled on, sharing bromides for dealing with isolation, and our hopeful predictions for the world when this finally ends. 

We were the nattering nabobs in a line-up. Sorry. When you’re six feet apart, you have to speak at a certain volume. 

Once in the store, we said, “stay safe” and he disappeared down an aisle. I was glad to have met Steve, an interesting, funny and expressive man. And I will likely never see him again.

The next day, I thought about my Costco trip as a fun little adventure. It gave me a story to tell, and got me government-sanctioned time out of the house on a lovely day.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!