COVID dropped by for a visit. Scuttled right on into the living room and made itself at home. Didn’t make much of a racket per se or turn anything over; invisibility making it impossible to contain, except, well, as it slithered into each body in our household, only tangible, in actual form, on a cotton swab swirled about in nasal cavities otherwise best left alone. Into a vial. Out to a lab. Back to my computer screen. POSITIVE. Positive indeed. Times four.

How strange to have this insidious visitor so late in the game. Grey cloaked and ethereal in my imaginings. A long, bony nose, dark, listless eyes. Dickensian to match the abundant rainfall it came in with last spring here in New England. Dank. Oppressive. Terrorizing. Yet, with our heroic vigilance, our austerity, our prudence we had seemingly muscled it down to more of a Casper-like version; something manageable, lighter blue, almost…tamable?

Not so fast. I recently heard someone describe whatever stage we’re in as sunny out the back door and stormy out the front (or vice versa). That seems more like it. And I guess I just got caught in the rain. But besides residual moments of brain fog and taste buds awaiting sensory Mardi Gras, it seems I’m in the clear and much better off than many of my fellow countrymen (the devastating impact is never far from my mind).

Two things that surprised me though: one, how fast we became a statistic to be managed and two, how little is actually known about the virus. In both instances, the Town Board of Health, the kids’ schools, my husband’s place of employment, and even one or two of our health care providers launched into supposed protocols, each different, all non-sensical, and every single one forgetting to start with the humanity of “Are you okay? What do you need? How do you feel?”

I’ll tell you straight up how I feel: fear and anger. Fear of this invader that no one quite knows what to do with or how long it might hang out and devour my previously functioning system. And anger that this thing I managed to bar against for 13 months found me despite maintaining protocols that are so habitual at this point I’m not sure I would even know how to break them—30 days out from my vaccine eligibility!

But as I am wanting to learn from the emotional triage of any personal experience, this one was about as a ripe as a rotting peach!

  1. Humans do not equal statistics. Yes, statistical information is necessary for science but the data itself cannot be over-emphasized at the cost of the subject.
  2. Acknowledging the questions is equally as valuable as having the answers. Hearing “I understand your question, I don’t know for sure, but I want to help…” is, actually, well, helpful.
  3. Trust first, support second. Assume the good in people and then help them do the right thing.
  4. Meet me where I am. Right now, this is not about you and your experience with this; it’s about me and mine.
  5. Only go onto the Internet to find data that supports what you want to read; skip the rest. Seriously.

I think these five insights can apply to just about everything in life really. And since this is a missive being sent to clients, trades, architects, vendors and FHPB friends, here’s what I want you to know: we are a company full of seekers that constantly learn from our life experiences. This time around, the lesson is in humanity:

You should expect us to see you as a whole being, but we simply can’t do that if we forget to acknowledge your questions, trust you, meet you where you are, or let you find information on the Internet that we should have given you! You are NOT a project, an experiment, a statistic, a portfolio picture. You are a person. And we are people too.

Yet over and over again we humans opt for emotional stoicism over the vulnerability of empathic understanding, fear of lacking an answer, losing control in collaboration. The sooner we all can agree that one of the best things about being human is the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes the better off we will all be. In fact, I’m pretty sure doing that would have tamed COVID a long time ago but, you know, that’s a different missive altogether.

Hope you’re well,
Allison