It happened on March 19, 2020. That day, the governor of California issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order. Within weeks most of the world was in lockdown. COVID-19 had turned our lives upside down. Across the globe, people faced the triple threat of contracting the virus, losing work, and losing freedom of movement. The lockdown meant we could not go out to stores, restaurants, even parks. And we had to stay away from strangers, even from friends. The pandemic had brought to all of us upheaval in personal, family, work, and social life. We had to rearrange our lives. For some, social distancing ex- acerbated loneliness and isolation. For some of us the lock- down had a silver lining—we thrived in the new ways of living. And we thought about our lives: What should life’s purpose be? And how should we live the rest of our lives?
To find out how people felt at the height of the pandemic and braving the lockdown, in May 2020, I surveyed people across the USA. I asked them questions about their life during the lockdown and about their feelings, living that life. They wrote down their answers, in their own words—telling it like it is, pouring out their hearts, sometimes in colorful language. A hundred of those answers—”voices”—are presented in this book. Voices that are sad. And sour. And sweet. And soulful.
Among these voices, find your own! * * *
As destiny would have it, on June 28, 2021, Australia declared a new lockdown to contain the new Delta variant. On July 28, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines, advising all Americans to wear a mask indoors, even if vaccinated. Across the world, governments and public health agencies renewed calls for new lockdowns and vaccinations. Maybe you discovered this book soon after its publication, in late 2021, or maybe you are reading it in 2022 or 2025, it helps to read it with some psychological distance from the pandemic, well after we are out of the lockdown. As we enter the “new normal” world, we should use this experience to at least ask the question: How should I rearrange my life to make it more fulfilling?
When I myself re-read these 100 narratives—when I listen to these 100 voices—from each I find a thing or two to learn: something to avoid or abandon on the one hand; and, on the other, something to embrace and cultivate. In either case, from these voices I want to grow and enrich my own life and those of others whose paths I cross.
I invite you on this journey.
Buy it for yourself. Then keep it for future generations