“People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now” –Thich Nhat Hanh
We are living in a time of unprecedented change. Things that we once took for granted have changed. Life is not the same and we can only hope it will get back to being the same again.
The truth is that facemasks, COVID-19, and social distancing could be our new normal life for a while. But with any kind of trial in life, there are lessons we can learn from those trials. Here are some of my experiences and the lessons I have learned as I have gone through quarantine and the coronavirus.
Life in The Times of The Coronavirus
I flew back to China from the Atlanta Home Decor and Furniture Market on January 20th, 2020. I had no idea at that time that life was about to drastically change. As the Chinese Lunar New Year was fast approaching, I was only in China for a few days before flying to Hanoi, Vietnam.
By January 26th, 2020 Vietnam had closed off its border with China. I just barely missed that unprecedented cut-off. At the time we were not too worried as many of us felt like this was just a “China issue” or a “China problem” as it did not directly affect me yet.
Over the next few weeks, things started to get a lot more tense and serious as Coronavirus cases in Vietnam started to appear. The government was started to ask people to stay at home and to self -quarantine.
I needed to go to the local ex-pat clinic to get my yearly physical. I had made an appointment with the clinic in December for my yearly physical. But when I called to confirm the appointment they asked me the dreaded question:
Have you been to China in the last two weeks?
I had to, of course, tell them Yes, I was just in China about 10 days ago. They then informed me that I would not be allowed to enter their clinic. I asked them, when can I get my yearly physical?
They told me to call back in 2 months, and they would let me know if I could come into their clinic.
This was the first time I realize this virus is very serious. This clinic who serves the medical needs of foreigners here in Vietnam was refusing to see anyone who had been to China. I heard rumors that they were even turning about people who were Chinese citizens who had not even been to China recently.
They just did not want to take a risk with the virus spreading into their clinic. As the girl explained to me, if the virus came into the clinic they would be forced to shut down for at least two weeks or longer.
It was at this point – quite early on during this coronavirus – that we all realized that this may not go away. This virus was no longer just a “China problem” as we had once thought.
COVID-19 came to Vietnam so quickly and forced us all into a quarantine that we knew that it was only a matter of time before it started to impact most of the world.
My China office was the first office that was required to work from home. Then shortly after that the Vietnam office followed.
Our working from home was a lot less painless than I thought it would be. It went relatively smoothly as for years we have been having weekly online zoom meetings and other kinds of remote work situations.
Here are a few things I have learned from being in quarantine and dealing with coronavirus:
We Are All In This Together
So many times we may think that we are in things all alone or by ourselves, but this virus has taught us all that we are all in this together.
Simply, we are not alone.
It does not matter what country you are from, what your religious, political, or other views are. This virus knows no boundaries. We are all in this together and we all need to work to conquer this together.
Pierre Tellhard de Chardin, the 20th Century visionary French Jesuit, philosopher, biologist, and paleontologist said it best when he spoke on how the world is more alike than different.
“We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate one another.” – Pierre Tellhard de Chardin
There Are Ordinary Heros Among Us!
Watching entire cities clap for nurses, doctors, and others on the front line of this virus has shown us that there are many ordinary people who are willing to put their lives on the line. They are the everyday heroes that we pass by every day on the street. People who are so ordinary we may not even realize they are actually one of our modern-day heroes or heroines.
Many of them have risked or even given up their own lives so that others could live. Others go into work each day without adequate and proper medical equipment to protect them.
These ordinary men and women have shown us all the decent side of human nature. They are the heroes that walk and live among us.
I love this definition of a hero by Joseph Campbell, the American author, he said:
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
Winning Is About Working Together
Being here in Vietnam has shown me what it has meant for a nation and people to work together through this difficult time. Wearing a mask, sanitizing your hards before you enter a store, getting your temperature taken when you enter a public building is not about whether you are sick or not, or even about your own personal rights. It is more about the rights of a community and helping to protect the person who may be older or more vulnerable not to get sick.
To win against this virus or even win in life means that we each need to work together. That is why I love this quote by the great American Football coach, Vince Lombardi. He sums up how important it is for us to all work together and to look out for each other.
“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses or the problems of modern society.” – Vince Lombardi
Life’s Simple Pleasures
As we have all had to slow down and stay home, many of us have rediscovered life’s simple pleasures. Whether it was to learn to bake again, walk a dog, go for a bike ride, read a book to a child, talk to a friend you have not spoken to for a while.
As our lives have slowed down, in many cases our relearning the simple pleasures in life has increased. We yearn to be able to shake hands or hug a friend again. We long to sit down with our elderly parents and friends. We missed seeing our friends at the trade shows like the High Point Furniture Market We realize that those simple pleasures we once took from granted were more important than we ever realized.
I love this very simple just powerful quote by the Indian author Avijeet Das:
“The simple pleasures of life give us lasting satisfaction.” – Avijeet Das
Yes, You Can Run Out of Things To Watch On Netflix
Believe it or not, you really can very quickly run out of things you want to watch on Netflix. I say the word “want” as there is a lot to watch on Netflix but as I start to check out what is available to watch I many times find myself not finding anything I want to really watch.
When I was in quarantine many times I would find myself turning on the televsion more as background noise. I guess I really did miss having other people around me.
Life is more enjoyable when we have other people around us and not just the television set with the Netflix blaring in the background. I really love this quote by the American author Michael Crichton. It sums up my feelings exactly.
“Sometimes I look around my living room, and the most real thing in the room is the television. It’s bright and vivid, and the rest of my life looks drab. So I turn the damn thing off. That does it every time. Get my life back.”- Michael Crichton
I do not think there is anyone in our industry who will say that the time of the Coronavirus was an easy time. Our industry has been hit hard on many levels. Trade shows stopped and sales slowed.
Yet there are lessons we can all take from this time. Lessons about the ordinary heroes among us, our working together, our having compassion for others and our realizing life does give us all some very simple pleasures.
What is a Social Conscience?
To have a social conscience is about being concerned about the problems or injustices of society and simply to care about those who are less fortunate. There are many in the world who continue to suffer under extreme poverty by living on less than 1.9 USD per day. This is why it is important that we all seek to find ways to have a social conscience by helping those who are less fortunate. It is the women and girls who suffer the most in the world. This is why at Mondoro always seeks to find ways to work with small women-based enterprises for our manufacturing needs.
To find out more about what having a social conscience means you can read our blog on Having a Social Conscience, What Everyone Should Know by clicking here.
When I Need To Travel Again, How Can I Stay Healthy?
Staying healthy during your overseas business buying trip is very important. Usually, you need to be able to hit the ground running with long workdays. I have some very simple things I do to make sure I stay healthy during my business buying trips. I make sure to get enough sleep, I take Vitamin C, and try to eat right and exercise.
You can read some more ideas and suggestions on how to stay healthy on your business buying trips by reading our blog Stay Healthy on Your Overseas Buying Trip, What You Need to Know by clicking here.
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