As the spring approaches this year, it feels a bit like the world is waiting expectantly for its rebirth, post-pandemic. The anxious anticipation of relief from the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the cascading complications it has caused, not to mention extreme weather, civil unrest, and the economic fallout with rising unemployment, have all of us longing for better days. Even if you have not personally known anyone that has had COVID-19, your life has been impacted, your freedoms curtailed. Whether we have formally acknowledged it or not, each of us has had the realization within this last year that there is no circumventing the impact this pandemic has had on our lives has. At some level, we have likely have concluded, one way or another, that the only way out is through to the other side.
Early in the quarantine, I wrote the following piece that reflected on the way we as humans mark time.
It is common to hear context by events, for instance, before and after 911. I shared then that I believed we were entering a new marker that in the future we would recall as ‘before the pandemic or after the pandemic’. A premonition that has come true as 2020 ended and 2021 has begun to unfold. We will never be the same as a society. Vaccine or no vaccine, there is no going “back to normal” as I have heard so many people long for this past year.
No matter your circumstances, financial and/or emotional trauma can make a person feel like they are wearing cement boots. I would argue that we still have choices. This quote from Viktor E. Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, speaks to this and to the position we find ourselves in today.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
So, what is next? I believe we are at the proverbial fork in the road as a human race. Whether we are discussing solutions for businesses that are struggling to survive or for the individuals and families that have been impacted at varying levels by financial and emotional trauma over the past year, the conversations are the same; how will we survive? We are all searching for our own response to these unsettling times.
Are we going to let this past year’s quarantine, civil unrest, and natural disasters have us leaning into feeling powerless going forward? Or will we have the conviction to take back our world by being intentional about how we move forward?
If we agree that moving forward is the only option, then I propose we take time to evaluate the changes we have experienced. Accepting or rejecting them before we go on to the next chapter. This is a tremendous opportunity to assess how this will evolve within our society, our families, and ourselves.
Of course, there are many hurdles at all levels of our society. Some would say an overwhelming number, which might cause some to feel justified in throwing up their hands to opt for the tumbleweed response. However, as you might have guessed, I would opt for a more proactive response in the hope of fostering transformation over mere survival. This quote from Christopher Reeve speaks to our ability to choose our attitude so beautifully, “Once you choose HOPE, anything’s possible.” I choose to HOPE in our future as a world-community, one HUMAN race. There is power in every choice we make as individuals and as a society.
Where do we start?
Get curious. Focus your attention on what YOU experienced during the quarantine and ask those in your circle about their experiences. The goal of your search is to find a map for the future journey that is centered on acting “with purpose, on purpose” a way that will enable us to evolve, progress, and transform our lives as human beings and as a society, not to just survive or exist.
Questions like these…
- How have we been changed?
- What can be gained?
- What can we learn from this year of seclusion?
- What have we shed, during this season of quarantine, that no longer serves us?
- What have we gained in perspective while at home, at work, or at home working amid these many challenges?
- Can we find things that we are grateful for? If so, can we capture the details about why we are grateful?
- What must we do to convert these experiences into the resilience we need to not only survive what will follow in the years to come but to thrive?
- What does moving forward look like for YOU?