For me, the occasion was cancer, diagnosed in 2018. One of the most ludicrous things I heard while sick was: “Cancer is a gift.” As if being at death’s door, or somewhere in that neighborhood, bestows wisdom that can’t be gotten any other way. No path to enlightenment should involve the horrors of chemotherapy! But it did give me one lasting adaptation: The resolve to guard my remaining time ferociously. For me, that means resisting overwork and spending more time in my actual life. Hanging out with my loved ones. Just being.
What’s been wild these past few months is watching all of American culture go through a similar wake-up call. No chemo needed.
Still, the reality of what’s possible for workers varies wildly. If your financial situation is perilous, it can feel unsafe to demand more of your employer — or even take time to look around for a different situation.
In this country, health care, outside of employers, remains so expensive that many stick with jobs they don’t love, or even like.
I would never suggest Covid is a gift — but it could bring a change we’ve desperately needed.