Issue 6 | December 2022 | Dear Shark | Resilience

Issue 6, December 2022, Life After Lockdown, Post-COVID, Environmental Impact, CoreShark H2O, Dear Shark

Dear Shark,

It’s been a trying 2.5 years with the Covid pandemic and everything that has happened related to it.  We learned social distancing, wondered where all the toilet paper went, and started to work from home and go to school online.  So much has happened and, now, as we get back to “normal” and as we learn to live with Covid long term . . . what have we learned and where do we go from here? 

Sincerely, Floundering For Now

Answer provided by: Bryan Gomes, CSH2O Environmental Educator

Dear Floundering For Now,

Well, it certainly has been a wonky time to be living on planet Earth.  There are always struggles and challenges, but this global pandemic isolated us even more in a time of need and will definitely have some long ranging effects.  We have heard the expression “What doesn’t kill Issue 6, December 2022, Life After Lockdown, Post-COVID, Environmental Impact, CoreShark H2O, Dear Sharkus makes us stronger”.  This statement seems to ring true as we move forward post pandemic and consider things we have experienced and then learned from those experiences.  Call it grit, or perseverance, or determination, whatever you call it, it is this resilience from our struggles that is creating a better operating system for us moving forward.  Not a computer or phone operating system but our own operating system of our head, heart and body.

This better operating system starts with expanding our comfort zone through taking risks.  In the diagram included in this article, we see three circles.  The inner circle is our comfort zone–things that make us feel warm and safe and sound.  The outer circle is the panic zone–things that freak us out and we try to avoid.  But somewhere in that middle circle is the space we call the learning or stretch zone, and we activate it every time we take controlled or calculated risks.

Issue 6, December 2022, Life After Lockdown, Post-COVID, Environmental Impact, CoreShark H2O, Dear SharkComfort Zone:  Where we feel comfy and safe
Stretch Zone:  Where we need focused effort and attention
Panic Zone:  Where we are overwhelmed and unable to learn and grow


We take calculated risks, whether we realize it or not, every day.  Risk taking can be readily achieved in any new or novel space, like dealing with a pandemic and with the aftermath that follows.  The farther we go, the more we evolve to become a collection of these experiences and a more refined version of ourselves.  We need to stretch ourselves far enough to be mindful in that new space, which then allows us to make sense of and learn from that experience.  But the more we push outside the lines of our comfort zone and bump up against the lines of the panic zone, the more we learn to trust–even things that we cannot control.

Having this previous experience to draw on builds a base layer of information in our brain which we can call upon when in those types of environments again.  One can even tap into these resources and use them in other relevant applications in one’s life.  And from these new or expanded experiences, we can reflect, learn, and ultimately, grow!  We as humans need to get out of this negative feedback loop of fight/flight/freeze mode and just take a step back, take a breath and think.

Learn From Nature. The marsh and cove near where I live is abundant with wildlife.  Mostly birds of all types and sizes from ospreys to red wing blackbirds to pileated woodpeckers. Occasionally, I see other more elusive critters like the muskrat.  Before the pandemic, I would guess that I saw a muskrat maybe once or twice  a week. It was a big deal to catch a glimpse!  Then, at the beginning of the pandemic, we had shutdowns; and even the marina near me was closed to recreational boating.  With all the quiet stillness, this scarce wildlife started to become more visible. Muskrat sightings grew from twice a week to maybe 12 times a DAY. It was an amazing spike.

Issue 6, December 2022, Life After Lockdown, Post-COVID, Environmental Impact, CoreShark H2O, Dear Shark

I heard similar stories from both strangers and friends, near and far, that they were seeing wildlife during the pandemic’s early days that they hardly ever saw before.  Not a coincidence!  Mother Nature is both the “gatekeeper” and the “keymaster”.  The trees and animals and natural resources of land and water have been here long before humans. We can learn a lot from nature.  Let nature and the wild spaces we love be our comfort, our friend, our confidant, and our ultimate teacher of how things should be.  Take the science of adaptation and turn it into your personal version of being better today from what you experienced in the past.

Why did George Mallory climb Mount Everest?  “Because it was there,” he said.  We all have our own versions of Mount Everest that we see as challenges in our lives.  If we don’t stretch to these challenges, we end up living a rather simple life and can really limit our opportunities.  We must embrace the ambiguous line between comfort and panic.  Almost all progress in our lives takes place outside our comfort zone.  And it is through adverse and challenging experiences that we adapt and evolve by growing our comfort, stretch and panic zones–and ultimately our resilienceThe act of trying is ultimately an endeavor in optimism.  If you’re not somewhat uncomfortable, you’re not really learning or growing to your potential.

So, take these last 2.5 years as an extended course in expanding your comfort zone, your resilience, and your optimism.  Try something new.  Learn a foreign language.  Issue 6, December 2022, Life After Lockdown, Post-COVID, Environmental Impact, CoreShark H2O, Dear SharkTake up a new hobby.  Learn to cook an intricate dish.  Not sure about any of these?  Go outside and let nature be your guide.  Because of what we have experienced (ALL of what we have experienced), we have stretched and grown and are better as a people and more prepared for whatever comes next!

Click here for more ways to build resilience.

Sincerely, Shark

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