I’m quite the aficionado of good psychological thrillers or well-done horror flicks. So the other night I watched I Am Legend with Will Smith. Wow, I’m surprised I didn’t check this one out sooner. It’s a fantastic movie based on the 1954 novel of the same name. The film stars Smith as US Army virologist Robert Neville. The story is set in New York City after a virus (how fitting), which was originally created to cure cancer, has wiped out most of mankind, leaving Neville as the last human in New York City, other than nocturnal mutants. Neville is immune to the virus and he works to develop an elusive cure while defending himself against the hostile mutants and trying to survive.
They say life imitates art. As I was watching the movie, I could personally relate to many of the movie’s themes. No, I’m not the last man left standing in Boulder, Colorado but I am a single guy and yes, I do have a canine companion though not a German Shepherd, but a loyal and trusty Doberman Pinscher. I also drive a Jeep instead of a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and try to abide by the speed limit. I have never tried shooting deer out of a moving vehicle, but I am from Wisconsin so I may already have the skill in my DNA 😊.
The movie depicts how Neville stocked food (yes, check), searches for other survivors (I think we’re all searching for connection right now), and battles mutant subhumans (our negative thoughts and fears). Mutant subhumans may be a stretch, but now that face masks have become part of our daily attire in an attempt to mitigate the novel coronavirus and stay healthy, we can all relate.
I didn’t see any references to TP hoarding in the movie. Maybe Neville bought out Costco during the final days of society or maybe they’re saving that storyline for the sequel.
We don’t have to avoid real-life mutant monsters quite yet, but here are a few things you can do as a solo act to live your life with purpose and intention and maintain your sense of connection during the challenge of a lockdown or quarantine:
1- Maintain a set schedule. I recently read a story on one of the major news sites where they interviewed prisoners who were locked up in solitary confinement at some point during their sentence. The reporter asked for tips on how best to maintain your sanity when you’re alone in a cell with often way too much time of your hands. The number one answer of those surveyed: maintain a set schedule. I’ve been doing this by default as that’s just the way I’ve always scheduled my days, but now it’s even more important. Map out your day each day as you would at work. Include things like work or job search activities, professional development time, eating, exercise, reaching out to friends and family, household tasks, shopping be it online or IRL (In Real Life). Maintaining a set schedule will give you a sense of purpose and more importantly right now, a sense of control.
2- Exercise and eat right! Now is the time to get off the couch or out from behind the laptop and get in shape. Run, bike, walk, or hike for cardio and endurance and weight loss. Buy a jump rope and skip each day. Regular exercise is an easy way to build your health, boost your immune system, lose weight if you need to, and overall feel great. You can do a multitude of body weight exercises to build strength and tone. Use household objects like water jugs or other things that have some density and can be gripped easily for some “weight training” activity. Many clubs and gyms have online classes now that are free. Take small steps but just get started. It’s a well-researched and documented fact that a regular exercise program releases endorphins which makes you feel great and increases levels of well-being and self-esteem. Diet counts too so watch the junk carbs and boredom snacking. Eat healthy and take a regimen of immunity and wellness-boosting vitamins and minerals each day.
3- Get a pet. I’ve always been a dog guy, having had one Golden Retriever and four Dobermans throughout the course of my life, but now my pet plays an even bigger role. Whether rain, snow, or shine, it’s a forced exercise program to get her out (Dobies are a very high-energy breed) which means I’m doing a 5K every day. Even if your preference isn’t dogs, cats can also be great companions. Pets have been medically proven to lower blood pressure, increase overall health, give one a sense of purpose, and induce endorphins to create a feeling of peace and happiness. Animal shelters are still open, so start there. This one thing alone can make all the difference in your mental well-being right now.
4- You can still date. Major dating sites saw a 30% increase in messages and traffic in March. I think this trend will continue as single people continue to look for connection, community, and even romance. The latest trend are video dates where you can just chat or even enjoy dinner or drinks together. Ironically, it does make the vetting process easier (and less expensive and time consuming) compared to going out and actually meeting someone. Everyone’s risk tolerance is different, so you’ll have to be the judge on determining if you actually want to meet in person if there’s a solid connection.
5- Work on that goal you’ve been putting off or establish a new one. We are all goal-oriented creatures. We do not feel complete, fulfilled, or satisfied unless we’re in pursuit of something important to us. For some, it’s starting a business, getting promoted at work, or gaining another degree or certification. For others, the main goal is raising healthy and principle-based children and focusing on household values and providing a loving and supportive family environment. It doesn’t really matter what your goal is as long as you have purpose and are always striving to improve. So, start the business or lay the ground work, start a blog, or get that degree. Now is the time to set some family goals, make plans, and put in some extra time with your child on homework or playing educational games. An old proverb says the journey of thousand miles begins with a single step, so whatever your purpose, goal, or passion, move forward and get started today!
6- Take time each day for a shot of inspiration. If you plant a garden but never maintain it, soon it will be infested with weeds, insect pests, and the crops will wither and eventually die. It’s the same with your mind. If your brain and thoughts are a garden, what are you filling it with? Are you working it each day to only produce the results as you intended or letting it get overrun with negativity, fear, and clutter? You do have a choice. Sure, stay up to date on current news, recommendations, and findings, but also keep in mind all news channels and sites make money by recruiting eyeballs so decipher between the legitimate information and click-bait. There’s enough “gravity” right now so set aside time each day for some positive, motivational, and inspirational material. Some of my personal favorites are videos and writings by Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, the late great Dr. Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra, Larry Wilson, and Joel Osteen. Fill your mind with positive, mentally nutritious information, not weeds, and don’t get caught up in the gravitational pull of all the Chicken Littles right now.
The ending of I Am Legend was bittersweet. According to IMDb, there was actually an alternate ending that audiences liked much better. I won’t give either ending away, but your “ending” can be a happy and positive one, if you choose it to be. You are the driver and pilot navigating the course of your own life. The current coronavirus challenge is one you, me, and the entire planet must navigate. How will you do it? Will you have the forces act upon you or will you take action and stack the chips and odds in your favor? You have the ability to do either, it’s 100% your choice. You can choose to not just survive, but actually thrive in these challenging times. I hope you choose to live your life with passion and purpose, no matter the odds or circumstances you currently face. I know you have it in you to do it.
Be safe, well, and mindful my friend.
Your co-solo act,
Don |[email protected] | 303-245-7049