For better or worse, my name and the word change have walked hand-in-hand since 1980.
As a newspaper editor, I initiated or helped lead reform efforts that included teambuilding, Public Journalism, multimedia journalism, and convergence of media platforms.
Name the “nostrum,” as my critics labeled them, and I was on the frontlines of advocacy to upend our craft’s encrusted and increasingly out-of-touch ways.
Comes now Covid-19.
The behavioral restrictions from Covid-19 have compromised my ability to manage change — big and small flavors.
Due to my Parkinson’s, I find it difficult to adjust to the disruption of my daily routines that our “New Normal” requires.
I find myself, uncomfortably, to be an Anti-Change Guy.
For example, I relish physical contact with people. I am (or was) a hand-on-the shoulder toucher and greeter. That extroverted need of mine is blunted by our new social distancing requirements.
Digital replacements for in-person contact are ingenious and helpful for many. But not for this Parkie.
I experience most Zoom video interactions as weird and unsettling. My intimate and joyful Sunday School class was emotionally flattened beyond recognition for me when we met virtually.
Parkinson’s for many sufferers results in sharp curtailment of our ability to juggle tasks; diminished ability to respond appropriately to changed circumstances; and rotten short-term memory—like where did I leave my car key?
My ill-fated trip to Philadelphia in September is my car-key, deluxe story. While trying to manage the demands of TSA in the Atlanta airport, I unknowingly dropped the leather purse containing my car key.
Miraculously, it was found and returned several days later. But those were anxious hours between loss and recovery.
On the return leg of that trip, I paid my taxi fare, plus tip, with my MasterCard. Much later, I was paged in the Philly airport to return to check-in. My extraordinary taxi driver had found my credit card on the back-seat floor. His frantic mission was to return it.
The card had slipped from my Parkinson’s numbed fingers. Never felt it drop.
My driver would not accept my further tip.
I write this post without joy. I grudgingly acknowledge Doc Parkinson’s relentless drive to drain sufferers’ control of our lives.
But in the glorious words of a fallen colleague: “We must never, ever give up fighting The Beast.”
I will find ways to adjust to the “New Normal.” Bank on it.