This Is About More Than Toilet Paper: Some Thoughts on the Coronavirus

“What did you do with this crisis?”

This Is About More Than Toilet Paper

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This may be what our children ask us about this time.

Which, of course, is always the question. What will you do, Mary Oliver asks us, with your one wild and precious life?

Something, I hope, more than worry.

Something, I hope, more than hoard or blame.

Something more than hole yourself up in a cabin and wait for this thing to blow over.

A crisis is an opportunity to create something new.

My mentor Seth Godin encourages us in this time of change to not binge watch another show or sulk through more news updates but to go learn something.


Because the world is changing, and it will need your contribution. In a week or a month or a year from now, how will you look back on this time? Will you have used your opportunity to contribute something to this new world? Or will you have only enjoyed an abundance of hand sanitizer?

Let’s talk about what we need right now. Yes, let’s be informed. Let’s be wise with where we go and what we expose ourselves to. But let’s not stop there.

What we need is to be generous. To love those around us. We need to be more than survivors. If we are safe, we have an opportunity to help. To connect. To care. And to create.

What if this week you launched that podcast you were thinking about doing?

What if you played that board game with your kids?

What if you called that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with?

What if, as an old friend once taught me, you stopped saying “what if…?” and started saying, “Let’s!”

Let’s start the podcast.

Let’s play the board game.

Let’s do the call.

Let’s be brave.

I spent the past 48 hours worrying. I desperately wanted others to surround me to make me feel not so alone.

I watched too much Netflix, called too many friends to validate me, refreshed my feed too many times. Now it’s time to get to work. To do something. To make something.

And I invite you to join me… if you want to be proud of how you spent this time.

Yes, inform yourself.

Yes, take care of your loved ones.

Yes, stay home.

But please don’t just hoard the toilet paper. Don’t just isolate yourself. Don’t merely endure the crisis.

All of these choices are just the context from which you can create something new.

This, I promise you, is about more than toilet paper.

And please, if things get dark or scary, reach out. Ask for help. Invite someone’s love into your life.

What’s wonderful and terrifying about a crisis is that it’s a reminder that life is more fragile than we thought. It’s a lesson that the systems upon which we so heavily rely can easily be upended.

I have to be honest with you. I’m a little scared. I am relatively safe, as is my family. But the world as we know it is quickly changing. What will happen? Maybe six weeks from now, we will look back on this and laugh. I sure hope so.

Maybe not. Regardless, I don’t want to know that I wasted my opportunity. That I could have cared more for those who were in need. That I could have created something new. That I could have made a connection with another human.

So, whatever you’ve been thinking about doing, whatever yearning you’ve had to learn something, make something, contribute something:


Here are some ways to get involved:

  • If you are a creator and in financial need, check out this fund that ConvertKit just created. Also, if you have the means to contribute, please do that. I’ll be making a donation later this week as I know these are hard times for many of my friends.
  • For a little levity, I am launching a cooking show on Instagram where every morning for breakfast, I’ll cook something different and show you how in my live feed. Make sure you’re following me and don’t miss it on Instagram.
  • Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, at 1:00pm Central time, I’ll be hosting a free digital meetup for writers and creatives to share their struggles and opportunities presented by the current coronavirus crisis. You can sign up for that right here. In the meantime, please answer the following:

What current struggle (emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, etc.) are you facing?

What new thing does this crisis make possible for you?

As for me, I’m going to be working on a new project that I’ll be sharing more about soon—a friend and I have been kicking around the idea of a new podcast for ages and we’re going to give it a shot this week. I’ll keep you posted.

Hang in there, friend. Be strong. Learn something new. Make a meaningful contribution. And don’t forget to reach out and connect with someone during this time.

The world needs your work.