Crisis could be defined as a moment in time that shakes us to our foundation and forces us to come face to face with asserted values versus values in action. It is a time that asks, “what matters to you?”, and requires our immediate and most honest answer. In a crisis we don’t get a do-over.
Still, this crisis is uniquely slow-moving - a bomb in slow motion. Other countries have shown us what the virus will do. We just don’t know the severity of our fallout. We get an opportunity to be alone and think about what matters - whether we made the choice to self-isolate as soon as our governor asked, or went on with business as usual until the choice was no longer ours to make. Eventually, we are all alone with ourselves or a small group at home. Our packed schedules are suddenly very quiet and we have time to think about things we never had time to think about before.
What was your Saturday like before COVID-19? Maybe stopping at the coffee shop, dropping by the farmer’s market, a chain grocery, a big box store, and then heading to a soccer game? When your options are taken away, it can feel a little confining at first. Today, if you go anywhere, it’s to get essentials like groceries or medicine. Even essential trips come with added security and rules. Limited people in the store. Stand 6 feet apart. No more than 2 hand sanitizers and 1 pack of toilet paper per purchase.
In a world filled with pressure to do more and be more, suddenly we’re all at home with time on our hands. Parents have a little more attention to give their children when the daily commute is gone (with the exception of front-line workers). Overscheduled kids are forced to play in the yard and make up imaginary games. Instagram feeds are full of emerging bakers trying their hand at artisanal breads and cakes. We’re reusing more than we would before, and digging through the pantry to make do with what we have a little more. Our confinement has forced a nation to consider beans and rice and the many ways to cook them. People are taking walks and saying hello to neighbors they’ve never met. Farmers have become essential to a lot more people...seriously, Maggie tells me they have never sold so much beef in such a short time to neighbors and old friends.
My hope is that we can look back at this time and see this not just as a scary time - because it is scary and I don’t want to downplay that. For some people, the space and time comes at a very high cost - maybe a job, a business, or someone they love. Some of us will lose more than others. This is especially true for front line employees who toil around the clock while we stay safe at home. All of us will hold a different world in our hands when this is over - the question is - what will do with it? Will we change?
Will we go back to the status quo, filling our schedules and our cupboards with junk we don’t need or will we hold some of that space back for ourselves? Will we abandon the neighbors who laughed (across 6 feet) with us or who checked we had enough groceries? Will we forget the small businesses who made sure we had food every week - at no small risk to themselves? Will our children once again have to compete with our phones for attention or be shuffled from activity to activity? Or will we continue to sit outside, check on each other, and sit quietly at home on a summer evening more often? Will our forced experience with scarcity make us think through where our resources came from?
It’s unrealistic to stay home forever. The challenge is to take this time and look at it closely - what do you love from this time? Where is the sweetness you want to keep? Decide now, and make a plan to make that happen.