Column: 'Right now, everything is a reaction'

Column: 'Right now, everything is a reaction'


Yesterday I arrived home thinking I forgot something, which is not uncommon at my age. After carefully going through my day, I realized I didn’t forget anything; what I was feeling was anxiety. This is a unique feeling for me because I just don’t react with much angst about life. This does not mean I am a calm person all the time. As a matter of fact, when it comes to politics I’m very animated and usually angry. I guess what I’m talking about is an uneasiness, a kind of fearful concern, and a sense of apprehension and doubt. This is not the first time in my life I have felt this way, but right now it’s like a ball and chain around my leg that is not going away.

The obvious cause of my anxiety is our current crisis and an overwhelming concern for my family, business, employees, friends, community and my country. I’m almost to the point of not watching the news or reading the newspaper because it just reinforces my angst. I think I have a handle on why I’m feeling this way and it’s because I just don’t know what the future is going to be and how to be thoughtful about what I should be doing. Right now everything is a reaction, not a plan. When I try to think about what I need to do, I’m just chasing my tail.

On the one hand I’m so much better off because I can continue to work and as of today have not needed to lay off any of my employees. I don’t know anyone personally who has or had the coronavirus and my life is reasonably normal other than it’s all about work and going home. I actually feel a bit guilty about having any anxiety because of how much others are suffering.

However, right now we live in a scary world. All you have to do is wonder if you touched the wrong light switch, door knob, grocery cart or package. Or maybe you got too close to someone who coughed or sneezed. While my unique business can stay open, our clients’ businesses may not and that will quickly filter down to our talent management company.

I sat down to write this only because writing is cathartic for me and usually helps me think of some answers, understand things more clearly or be helpful in some way. Unfortunately, I’m not feeling any better yet because the cause is the unknown and unless you have a crystal ball and can look into the future and see how this is going play out, and when it will be over, the root cause is still there.

I suppose there is some solace in knowing the world has been through this before and the suffering and deaths were even worse and yet we are here today and still talking about it. Like many brain health issues, many people think I should take two Advil and get over it or maybe have another drink tonight. The problem is the next day and not seeing a light at the end of tunnel. Let’s all hope we can keep our heads on straight, do our part for humanity and get some good news soon.

Dan Portes is the founder and CEO of Management Resource Group, which is based in Davenport.


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