This edition of Heavy Metal is about, what else … the coronavirus. Surprise!
I'm sure Heavy Metal is not alone in feeling a sense of anxiety. Who will get COVID-19? Who will die? How widespread will the economic damage become — and how many people will lose their jobs?
Heavy Metal has been thinking about the pandemic and talking it through with my two college-age kids, work colleagues and longtime sources in the plastics industry. We came to this conclusion: Fear is taking over. Fear of the unknown.
Yes, we all have to take precautions of washing our hands, not touching our faces and avoiding big crowds. But conquering fear and anxiety about what could happen, about how terrible it could get? That's not so easy.
Still, we've got to try, for our own mental health. In these strange times, try to think about living one day at a time. When the sun comes up tomorrow, focus on that day, and then do it again. It's the projecting that can cause fear and even a mild sense of panic.
From talking it through, Heavy Metal sees some parallels to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. All Americans went to bed that night wondering what would happen next. More attacks? A "dirty bomb" exploded in Times Square? The sense of fear took months to finally ease. COVID-19 is similar: Something really bad and unprecedented has happened and we have trouble processing it. It seems unbelievable, liked you're watching a movie — Heavy Metal has been hearing that a lot lately — and it's true.
The only way forward is to live your life. Look at each day you're alive as a gift and focus just on that day. That's Heavy Metal's advice, even for normal times.
This applies to people as individuals. Of course, businesses must do projections and forecasts. Manufacturers need to figure out different scenarios and prepare for the worst of this Black Swan event of 2020. Every company is doing that.
But no, not in our personal lives. Certainly, there are major disruptions. Most of the people who can work at home will work at home. We'll all follow the CDC guidelines.
And layoffs are a real possibility, but Heavy Metal has always taken this stance: There's nothing you, as an employee, can do about it. Most of the time it's about a financial decision — money — and nothing personal. The same with COVID-19. All you can do is work hard and do the best job you can every day, but if you have no control over it, prepare for it but don't obsess.
We've all seen movies where society fights some kind of evil mass outbreak. "Night of the Living Dead" is one of Heavy Metal's all-time favorites.
But now that's it's real, Heavy Metal is binge-watching "Outlander" instead of "The Walking Dead."