“It’s a Grade B” horror film!!” A friend of mine who works for the High Court in London was exchanging emails with me on the current situation regarding Covid-19. Others have called it variously, “The Twilight Zone”, “the plague”, etc. Escalation of the Covid-19 virus progression across the globe has been painfully seen. I have simply been calling it the time of “Re”.
Three or so weeks back, I spoke with a NASA representative about a conference that I felt sure would now be canceled. He was literally changing his shoes in his office and preparing to walk out the door after his conversation with me, which was going to be very short. Much of the working facility staff where he was located had been instructed to head home. I could hear on his speaker phone that his secretary was making arrangements for the two of them to work from home. “Contact me again when you hear this thing has died down”, were his instructions to me: not very specific, but I knew what was in both of our minds, something like “whenever that may be”.
One of my retired friends, with whom I met briefly over lunch on March 13th (my last outing) was distressed about a small business owner she knew, who was near tears in fear of his candy business going under. She brought me a couple of boxes of chocolates. Bought along with a number of others to be distributed, in the hope of giving her shop owner-friend some support. A number of my other friends across the country were endeavoring to do the same. For a time, many of them were trying to support restaurants with take-out, until the closure of some of those restaurants occurred due to the expansion of virus mitigation efforts.
(My own plan, co-incidentally on the publication of my first book also on March 13th, was to launch a series of talks and book signings. Those, it became obvious would have to be put on hold along with other in-person efforts such as talks, workshops and seminars.)
With the shut-downs of whole cities, and orders in many communities to stay at home unless for food or pharmacy needs; the social distancing and sheltering-in-place action of local and state governments in order to protect communities; the scrambling to search for and receive funding through this period of time for businesses and those unemployed, and the climbing numbers of those ill and dying as a consequence of the pandemic, all have contributed to a seemingly ever more challenging and demanding period in our time, not only here in the US but globally. We are all in this together.
Depression , Frustration and Fear
Beyond boredom, depression, frustration, fear and general stress are the companions of so many of us these days. This is surprising to few. When not developing crazy videos on social media and the internet, or shaving pets into wild looking animals, or loading up on 36 bales of toilet paper (as a friend of mine did without realizing it – buying rolls wherever she could find them, till her tiny NY apartment screamed “uncle”), or investigating loans, grants and any possible form of financial resources to survive financially, in order to save our businesses and compensate for the loss of personal incomes…..There is also just the quiet anxiety about how we will emerge from this period of illness, seclusion and financial loss. What will the new world be like on the other side of this pandemic.
Why is this the time of “Re”?
I mentioned the title of my proposed article to a friend who quizzically asked, “Re?” Yes, I responded. In this time of great equalization, where we are all under this stress together, whether affluent and able to ride out the economic challenges with more personal support, or whether we have been living essentially paycheck to paycheck…. The virus does not distinguish, nor does it guarantee what the future will hold for any of us, as we approach what is to be hoped will be a downward viral progression of those infected.
Even with some decline of numbers, there is still a lack of clarity as to when our lives will have a semblance of norm. There has been some instruction provided from an uptick of infections in locations globally, that have pre-maturely lowered their mitigation standards…. We may need to be in this scenario for a longer time than anticipated, and certainly longer than any of us would want ….
There has never been a better point in our lifetimes to take this opportunity to step back, and engage this time for the first Re, “response”. While “reaction” is a tempting go-to action, it is not the type of action which typically sustains any situation over the long haul. It may be great when getting out of the way of an oncoming train, or other in-the-moment action, but virtually all situations which require any immediate reaction require a correction, ultimately, because as we know “reaction” does not allow for the reflection required for a more sustaining response.
From the business perspective, companies have been mobilizing to transfer work streams to a more home based and remote format. Various platforms are being entertained to maintain operations. Many management, staff and general employees have been laid-off. Hardly any industry has been left unaffected including the legal profession.
It is to be hoped that these efforts are part of considered “reflection”, in order that the new protocols, processes and work efforts will yield successful and effective operating models, possibly for a more technological and web based approach as is useful and needed for the given company/industry.
Our global and local economies are being decimated over the closure of so many companies. Agriculture has been devastated by sales losses of harvest. These are among many areas of impact. What can we do? What is in our power to do? How are we going to do it? We must all come out of this as winners, or we all have the possibility of losing more than just this time spent in a stalled mode.
Even more deeply and more fundamentally, we are all “people” experiencing this trauma together. And while this is a collective experience, we can only bring our individual selves to whatever our role is in this current time. Whether we are running a corporation; providing leadership; managing a department or a team; functioning as staff, independent contractor or third party provider, etc., all of us can only engage the best and strongest discernment that we can in each situation and each given decision strategy that is required. And while so many of us are at a total standstill, how can we discern the way to move forward and through this seeming abyss in which we find ourselves.
There are now many resources available to us out there, if we seek them out. Internet chatrooms, webinar, zoom meet-ups, on-line courses ….. Currently, there are resources found, on-line, offering everything from economic theory to management guidelines; theories of transition and transformation tools in order to pivot from this extended period of isolation and loss, into an anticipated and greatly hoped for possible future.
Beyond business related resources, there are those approaching this situation and the issues associated with it from other perspectives. These resources are working to facilitate the bolstering of our internal subjective reserves, in order for the greatest possible personal and collective discernment and fortitude to occur….For the best determinations and decisions to be made.
Internal fear, reactionary panic and confusion are not effective ways to cope with the challenges we face today personally or professionally. Yes, this may seem obvious, but without good subjective awareness and insight, of where we stand and what we are or are not going to do, personally and collectively, it is difficult sometimes to gauge effectively the necessary responses and decisions required in these trying times: responses and decisions that will enable us not only to recoup and recover, but to thrive as we move forward.
Now, that so many of us have some time to spare, perhaps it can also be the time to work on our muscles. Yes, working-out at home and engaging in all the prescribed instructions by medical and governmental authorities for selfcare are very important. But, the “muscle” being referred to here is metaphorical. It is the “mental” muscle we all need every day in order to live our lives effectively. Mind muscle. Brain muscle. Imagination muscle. Creative muscle.
And how many of us have been working on our mental muscle? How many of us have even given thought to nurturing and supporting our minds. Yes, we are hearing the importance of rest and sleep, of not stressing because that only lowers immunity and gives us nothing….We may be reading a bit more, or playing some games (a friend is playing bridge on-line in order to support mental agility) and perhaps getting way better at Sudoku….
What about our deeper, greater mind? The place from which many of the inspirations and solutions to our dilemmas come? The place which can guide our professional successes and mitigate perceived failures. The place that stimulates innovation, and helps us come up with greater and deeper solutions to some of our most complex challenges?
What is important? Why? What continues to be important? Why? What is possible? How? Now may be the perfect time to contemplate such considerations and more. Once we start, one question can lead to the next. The answers are our own. No one needs to know or judge. This can be our private journey on a road which incorporates vast choices, and impactful decisions that may do nothing less than create our futures.
Just because we engage in a bit-of life re-assessment does not mean that we must throw the baby out with the bathwater when or if we discover that something hasn’t been working, or may no longer work for us going forward…..Who said to do that? Perhaps major change or adaptation is not necessary, or may only require a minor tweaking before recommitting to a course plan for the future. Perhaps it is just a question of taking stock of how much we have accomplished, and how very satisfied and grateful we are for having been able to come this far and develop ourselves in such wonderful ways that serve our wellbeing.
What useful resources, people, ideas, ways of looking at something have we left behind. Perhaps we have just forgotten. Perhaps it is time to rediscover a talent, a skill, an ability? Perhaps there is a knowledge area we once employed and no longer tap into? What bears revisiting and rediscovery?
What can we do to facilitate this rediscovery that may then guide us into revisioning? One very simple and accessible way (of many possible tools) is to engage in contemplation….. The vision incubator. If we were to look into the lives of many known and renowned scientists and mathematicians, we might discover that many of them often took time to pause, to remove themselves from the pressures of constant “thinking” and work effort.
Many developed a habit of giving that part of their brain a chance to rest, and took some time to engage a more imaginative area of mind. Some would take a nap, and upon waking not only feel refreshed in having paused, but have also found on waking that the solution to a particular dilemma was right in front of them. Others had at times found answers, new ideas, or solutions in dreams. And yet, others employed a method of “active daydreaming’, a form of wakeful contemplation where they permitted their minds the freedom to roam after having “seeded” a question, or thought form in their minds. Upon returning from these types of reveries, these scientists often also discovered or “invented” new steps in their given quest for process development, or solutions to a problem. [For more information on contemplation exercises email info@CelaPhontus.com.]
Perhaps some of our efforts require re-engineering and redevelopment. I have a friend who has a house full of repurposed items. “What’s old is new” is a favorite saying of hers. The same can be done with real or imagined ideas, as well as the various possessions in our lives. Sometimes in this way, reinvention and redevelopment can spur new and exciting directions of inspiration. New ideas can be born in various ways.
And finally what is our resistance about? Is it because of what “they” taught us or “they told us”? Is it because of some unacknowledged drive that has long derailed us from our true sense of purpose? What would be our true ambition? Would we be interested in exploring a new direction in life but are afraid? Is it old fear and pain due to concerns about not living up to an ideal? Fulfilling someone else’s dream rather them our own? Needing to compete to prove something? Concern of not providing enough for ourselves…Our families? The questions are myriad as doubtless are the answers. Only we, each of us can know.
Now is a wonderful point in our lives for these question and the new developments toward which the answers might inspire us.
Once we have examined some of these “Res” (and there are obviously many others) and realigned our perspectives and perhaps our goals and ambitions, there is room and the possibility of reigniting goals and redefining our sense of purpose and direction. Perhaps our goals are not lofty. Perhaps they are simple and pragmatic. Nonetheless, more ideas are better than less. And we may wish to say yes to exploring more than one, or even create a list. Once we get going, it is sometimes amazing to see how ideas and inspiration can travel from strength to strength. We may discover we need to learn more. Now may be the time to do it!
Our resilience, perhaps indeed our professional and even personal survival, ultimately our ability to thrive may depend on our willingness, determination and commitment to engage our personal questions. In a broader sense those endemic to our current collective human condition.
Above and among all our efforts during these times we need to prepare ourselves in all the best ways possible. Part of that means taking good care of ourselves. We do need to self-nurture. Aside of all the other recommended protocols for safety and health, stress is an “enemy” to be neutralized. By shoring up our internal resources and self-trust in our capability to get through this, room is created for possibilities to emerge. History has taught us that we all, all of us have a greater capacity than we may realize, to survive and thrive through and beyond times of crisis and difficulty. Being generous with our thoughts and understanding, and kind to ourselves as well as others may be a great way to begin the renewal.