I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on a treadmill for as long as I can remember. The treadmill may have gotten an upgrade somewhere between high school and traveling the world for modeling, again after graduating from NYU, again when I opened my first business, again when I became a wife and a mother, as well as a few other times when I shifted my life to take on more. But, the point remains the same…I’ve been running at max the whole time.

Why are we so busy?!? No matter how many differences we may have as Americans, or even as humans, we are busy. We have meetings to attend, bills to pay, things to buy, goals to achieve, kids to take care of, spouses to pay attention to, friends we don’t want to ignore, family we haven’t seen nor spoken to in ages, the list goes on and on. No wonder we’re like vegetables when we sit in front of the TV at 9:30pm to try to relax and escape the hustle for just an hour! And, if you’re like me, I suffer from anxiety during that hour that I should be doing something more productive. “I’m sure Elon Musk wouldn’t be watching “Homeland”. Bill Gates would probably be finishing another novel in this same time period.”

And then…COVID-19.

This pandemic is horrendous, it’s scary, it’s killing people, it’s creating immense suffering for people who are dealing with the virus as well as those trying to stop it. But, it’s also one of the most unusual things that could ever happen to our society and to us as individuals. A pause. A moment to look at everything that our lives have become from a new perspective. It’s as though someone pressed the pause button on our treadmill unexpectedly, and we fell flat on our faces. We couldn’t remember how to walk rather than run, or just sit rather than walk. Scary and unnerving, yes. All uncertainty and change is. But, for once, and maybe just once, the world has paused.

Streets are empty, restaurants are closed, and malls are barren. At the same time, Venice has fish in their typically polluted waters, Los Angeles has less smog, and the whole Earth is vibrating less. How is it that nature is healing while we are dealing with being sick? Were we also sick before this, but we didn’t know it? Was our sickness of overwork and hyperactivity keeping us from the rest that we and our natural world so needed?

There are still the rumblings and murmurs of companies forcing their employees to be on Zoom all day long, and many don’t know how to operate without a nanny or a school outlet for their kids combined with house chores, cooking, etc. We’ve been forced back into a time of simplicity where we spend our time being busy actually LIVING and not just RUNNING to keep up with the Joneses.

What do we want to be in harmony with? The treadmill or nature? Could we all take this opportunity to step back for a moment and analyze what this means? I, for one, do not want to get back on another treadmill. Of course I recognize the need for work and a functioning economy. I don’t desire to return to the agricultural days of farming all day with large families to try to sustain some food on the table, but I do believe we went too far in the other direction before this pandemic.

Our entire system and our personal lives were so thrown off kilter by this virus that it has to make us question what we have built on and what our foundation has been. Someone sold us all of those treadmills. We have to take personal responsibility for looking at the price tag and selling our lives to buy them. This pause is our opportunity to say: I’m sorry, I don’t want another treadmill. I am choosing another “normal” moving forward. I will work and serve others with everything I have been blessed with. I will contribute to society on a whole new collaborative level. But, I will not be sold a life I didn’t ask for.

We all have to be prepared for the new marketing that is coming to get us back to “normal”, and ask yourself whether that is the normal you desire. As we get pulled back out of this pandemic, we will be bombarded with products and services to calm the uncertainty and bring us back to the treadmills. Be aware. Be conscious. Consider what you do want to reintroduce back into your life and what you don’t. It will take a conscious society to take the lessons that we need out of this and return stronger and more connected than ever. With darkness comes light, and I believe we have an opportunity to pick up on what is being revealed. I pray we will come out changed, more simple, more aware, and more connected to one another and nature.

Originally published at https://www.alexismaida.com on April 14, 2020.

Alexis is an experienced executive with 15+ years of expertise in strategy, communications, branding, marketing and wellness.

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