Months before Covid struck, I started my own consulting business. I often lay sleepless at night, feeling overwhelmed by my growing responsibilities. But my industriousness went beyond the desire to establish my company or any transition to telecommuting, since I’d worked remotely for the past 12 years.
Rather, it came largely from my precarious state of mind. I was scared—scared of catching Covid-19, of getting intubated in an overcrowded intensive-care unit, of dying behind a plastic sheet, cut off from my wife, children and granddaughter. I was paranoid, dreading a danger that lurked everywhere, even just outside my front door, and could infect me, my family and my friends.
This barely suppressed hysteria gave me a rationale for buckling down: a desperate wish to focus on something else. The world was coming apart, and I wanted none of it. And so I pushed myself extra hard to gain some sense of control. As Samuel Johnson said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”