Look for the one who you reach for in fear: We are so good at lying to ourselves until we are afraid. When we feel the world is ending or times are changing too rapidly, we can’t help but be honest. Remember the person you looked for when you were at the lowest, and hold on to them with all you’ve got.
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.
As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interview Sam Kane.
Sam Kane is a high school English teacher and author living in New Orleans, Louisiana. His novel, “The Pilgrim’s Soul”, was published during the pandemic.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series Sam! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I am a high school English teacher and author in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the life experiences that most shaped my current self would have to be the birth of my sons and my decision to pursue the dream of becoming a published author.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
I currently teach a hybrid course, which basically means that some of my students learn from home and others learn from the school in a socially distant, exhaustively sanitized environment. It is amazing how much learning and language is delivered nonverbally, especially in education, and it is just an incredible relief to slowly see students returning to a normal routine with in person instruction. So much of the joy I derive from my job is through interactions with students and families, and having the students come back is like a shot in the arm. I love teaching again.
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
Human connection throughout my day that is not hindered by worry or fear, and not having a virus that has become a political, and not medical, issue.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
The unfortunate reality we must address as a nation is how we treat human beings in regards to class and economic status. So many people were incredibly upset when they could not eat at restaurants or enjoy boutique stores without considering the fact that people had to work in those positions, risking themselves every day, so another economic bracket could enjoy a nice lunch or purchase a pair of pants. Inconvenience should never trump human life.
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
The forced reflection and introspection brought on by the removal of distraction. So often we as a society get so caught up in the minutiae and routine of our daily life that we do not see our years slipping through our fingers, and one day we look up and a decade of pushed aside dreams have piled up. COVID made people take a long look at what is important to them and gave them the time to actually act on some of those dreams.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
It is so strange to say, and it is laced with guilt, but I found myself enjoying being placed in lockdown. I got to play with my children, go out into local parks that no one frequents, and work on my writing. I did not lose my job, and COVID did not damage my family. This is why we need to take a long look at how our country handles economic demographics: one group should not feel completely safe and at ease while another large group of people suffers.
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
Some people simply did not make it through the pandemic, and once we are clear of it, I believe that our nation will mourn them. Right now, everyone is looking to blame someone, to make the virus appear to be more or less than it is according to their political agenda, and have not allowed themselves to realize that, at its highest, the toll of American lives lost was on par with a multinational armed conflict. I hope that our country can realize that the lives lost carry more weight than any political agenda one may entertain.
OK, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Strip away the routines from your life and find what is truly important: I was amazed at how many people I saw exercising, writing novels, and spending time with their families because of the pandemic. A job will forget you were ever there, but your children will always remember when you were absent.
- Humanity will always adapt: There were moments during the pandemic where people believed that the world as we knew it would end. I was amazed to see just how quickly people managed to carve a bit of normal out of chaos.
- Hold on to what matters, and let go of what does not: I had quite a few friends and family separate and divorce because of the pandemic, and I think it is actually a positive thing. People realized that they were staying together only because it was comfortable, not because it was right, and the pandemic forced them to realize that. On the other side, I saw relationships plunge into new depths of love and devotion because the world no longer could keep two people apart so easily.
- Look for the one who you reach for in fear: We are so good at lying to ourselves until we are afraid. When we feel the world is ending or times are changing too rapidly, we can’t help but be honest. Remember the person you looked for when you were at the lowest, and hold on to them with all you’ve got.
- Humor and art are weapons to use against fear: Human beings create the best art under stress, and I cannot wait to see the books, poems, and paintings that continue to come out because of the pandemic.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
I live by two simple mantras: I will not die a curious man, and I hope to leave the world a little better than how I found it. I tried to live by those mantras throughout this entire pandemic, and I believe it helped in a lot of ways. I tried to stay objective and curious about the progression of COVID-19 and not let my biases play a part in my decisions, and I think it helped me and my family remain calm throughout lockdown. I also knew that students would need to learn and require normalcy in order to thrive, so my second mantra helped motivate me to return to the classroom and teach, even though I do not know anything about technology (or didn’t at the time).
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would selfishly love to have lunch with Neil Gaiman or Brandon Sanderson, so I could pick his brain about the art of storytelling. I am continuously amazed at their ability to make a fictional world appear more real than the one I stand-in.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please go to samkanewriter.com and check out my upcoming novel The Pilgrim’s Soul, published by Sage’s Tower Publishing. All my social media handles are on there and feel free to drop me a message if you are so inclined.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.