Contrasts & Balance
Lonely. Desperate for 5 minutes away from my family.
Quiet and peaceful – maybe too quiet? Total cacophony 24/7.
Slower pace of life. Barely have time to eat and go to the bathroom.
Inside and isolated. Surrounded by people and/or
out in the world on the front lines.
Overcome with fear and uncertainty. Present to
the blessings of a pause.
Sick or caring for an unwell family member. Healthy
and exercising more than ever.
Longing for a hug or any human contact. Getting snuggles from family members constantly
(and watching kids beat each other up regularly.)
Able to enjoy hobbies & free time. Busier than
ever working remotely & home schooling.
This is hard for single people who live alone.
This is hard for couples who fight (and even those who have solid communication).
This is hard for people on the front lines trying to keep their corner of the world healthy and cared for.
This is hard for parents with small children (and teenagers) who need schooling and socialization. Even harder for those providing that while still working full-time from home.
This is hard for people with underlying health conditions who are fearing for their lives.
This is hard for those who are sick or who have a family member who is.
This is hard for people who need a lot of help (food, financial support, counseling) and for those who desperately want to be of service, but aren’t sure what to do.
This is hard for leaders of organizations, companies, non-profits, educational institutions, health care facilities, cities, states and countries who have to make often impossible decisions with limited or imperfect information.
Let’s face it, there are very few people for whom the present moment isn’t a challenge.
There are also so many blessings as crisis provides an opportunity to see what is really valuable. I am encouraged and hopeful about these big themes and specific groups to name just a few:
As things seemingly fall apart, we are coming together.
There is opportunity for healing and growth in the midst of crisis – on all levels from personal to global.
Because we can’t be outwardly busy and always moving,
we are forced to be still and focus inward
(inward toward our families and literally inside ourselves).
As the old falls away it gives rise to new
ways of being that serve us better.
The helpers. As Mr. Rogers reminded us so well, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.” So many people are helping on every level right now whether it is taking care of a neighbor, reaching out to a friend, sharing a talent or skill, providing words of encouragement, dropping off food, sharing comfort or joy, donating money or creating connection. Especially the people who are simply showing up for work every day when it may not feel safe or comfortable to do so. God bless the helpers. The creators. Songs, poems, blogs, art, stories, classes, books and so many creative endeavors are being inspired by this moment. I have recently begun coaching people to bring their books to life (and ghost-writing for others). Almost everyone has an important story to tell, and many don’t know where to begin or how to execute or they don’t have time to do it themselves. I love supporting that particular form of expression and helping people get their valuable contributions into the world. Just this morning I saw stories about two different creators bring new songs and paintings into being. The creators inspire all of us with their work. The leaders. No matter how well you think the leaders of your various affiliations are handling things, you have to give them credit for taking on this role in the first place and being in the arena at this time. This is a massive and unprecedented challenge in so many ways and we know so little about what the future holds. Taking the risk to lead in this moment (and every moment really) opens people up to tremendous criticism, but because the stakes seem so high right now the cacophony is amplified. I am grateful to those who are choosing to lead even as they do it imperfectly.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt
The seekers. Research, innovation, learning and curiosity are the drivers that always lead to new and creative solutions and there are those big thinkers and evidence chasers who are actively seeking a better way in all fields of endeavor right now. I have always considered myself a life-long learner, and I embrace change as an opportunity for growth and a better way. This is the case individually and collectively in this moment. Be curious. Instead of fearing what you may be losing, actively seek what could be even better ahead. The spaceholders. From the outside, it may appear as if these folks aren’t doing much of anything. They aren’t attention-seekers, and they don’t always produce a great deal that can be tangibly seen. But don’t let that fool you into thinking their role isn’t important. Throughout human history, there have been those who have held space for all of humanity including those in monasteries and ashrams who pray and meditate for many hours a day. In modern times, this phenomenon still includes monks and others like them, but also encompasses a broader population, like empaths who can feel and transmute the energy of others. The effects of this internal work have actually been measured in a number of ways. I’ve written about this before here and here. In the past few years and recent weeks there have even been significant spikes in something called the Schuman Resonance. You can read more about what it is here and what has been happening recently here. Individually we are experiencing so many different things. Collectively, we are experiencing the exact same thing all over the world for perhaps the first, and possibly the only, time in human history. It is a fascinating time to be alive, and making meaning out if it feels like a full-time brain occupation for all of us. I believe we are meant to balance the contrasts that each of us is feeling within ourselves and experiencing in our world right now.
The individual isolation WITH the sense of collective community. The overwhelm of having our families with us 24/7 WITH the unique opportunity for deeper connection and togetherness. The fear of not fully knowing what is happening (or what is next) WITH the freedom of not having to know right now. Huge amounts of uncertainty WITH the trust that everything will be okay. The falling apart WITH the coming together and
hopefully soon the building together. The pain of being physically separated WITH a greater appreciation for the simple pleasures we often take for granted.
I know without a doubt that for all the fear, hoarding and suffering this pandemic has caused, it is also allowing us to see all the cracks in our infrastructure that have created wide-spread inequality, injustice and insecurity for many. As those cracks have widened and more and more people have fallen through them during the past few months, we can see more clearly than ever the need to close them once and for all. This moment is our golden opportunity to shift forever the way we operate to benefit humanity as a whole and not just a privileged few who reap more and more of the rewards. The best way for each of us to do that is to see ourselves, our families, our communities and cities, our country and our world through eyes of love and to envision as often as possible the world we desire to live in.