Sunday, April 12, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under an Easter Basket
We are in the midst of a challenging paradigm shift. It it is difficult and it is painful. Yet it was inevitable because of the tenacity of change. We will get through it and thrive if we rise up to the challenge with equally tenacious spirits.
The Tenacity of Change
I love consistency. No, I crave consistency. And I crave routine. As I approach my birthday and my annual review of life as a whole, I am reminded that nothing has been consistent or routine about my life. No matter how hard I have tried to make it that way, not in the past year, not in any of the previous years. What I have learned, though, is that change is the only constant in life.
This is the tenacity of change. No matter how much we deny it, run from it, hide from it, or pushback against it, change is still there. It is a constant for individual people, groups, organizations, countries, societies, and cultures.
COVID-19 is a virus which is physically deadly to humans. It is also a cultural virus which is rapidly changing our understanding of who we are as individuals, how we have related to one another, and how we have related to our planet.
- Who we are as individuals. Our social distancing also invites us to be more reflective and instrospective. In the quiet of our lives – which sometimes now sounds deafeningly and painfully quiet – we can more clearly hear those voices of conscience, insight, and spirit that usually have a hard time getting our attention. When permitted they lift a mirror before us, allowing us to also see ourselves more clearly. As a result, we are reconsidering what is really important to us.
- How we have related to one another. Most people are thinking differently about one another in small ways, such as being more considerate in stores and even on the road. In other ways some people who still have income are helping those whose income has been lost or severely impacted. For example, some gig economy housecleaners receive payment from clients even though COVID-19 concerns prevent them from actually doing any cleaning. Some stylists and barbers continue to receive payments for cancelled appointments by unkempt clients. Others are volunteering – to help with COVID-19 patients, to sew masks and gowns, to deliver needed groceries and medicines to those who are too vulnerable to go out of their homes, to provide companionship to those who are alone by convening groups and classes via video conferencing. On a grander scale, even some ceasefires have been proposed.
- How we have related to our planet. About a week or so ago Clemencia and I were walking the Girls at night before bed. At nearly the same moment we noticed it. The planet Venus was shining like a beacon in the West like we had never seen before. We began to look around the sky and realized we could actually see stars too. We realized how clear the sky was and we wondered if stay at home orders and the closing of nonessential businesses could be making that much of a difference. We learned on April 9th that it is making a big difference…pollution over our house is about 30% less now than it was a year ago at this time. We have even noticed the difference with our noses. COVID-19 is giving us a unique and powerful view of what our consumption has been doing to Earth.
COVID-19 is teaching us who we have been but we it is not yet clear who we want to be in the future, or who we will choose to be.
Being Tenacious About Change
The choices we make about who we want to be are important for defining the new paradigm of our society and culture. Change does not stop simply because we don’t want it to happen or don’t want to participate. The change that is done to us, without our participation, often feels scary and threatening. To have the change we want we must particpate in it intentionally and thoughtfully.
Change is a threat when done to me, but an opportunity when done by me.Rosabeth Moss-Kanter
When we participate in the change willfully and intentionally, it does become opportunity for us. Post-pandemic we can continue to choose to be reflective and thoughtful rather than impulsive and compulsive. We can continue to treat one another with dignity and respect in the spirit of peace, or we can take our conflicts off pause and pick them up where we left off. We can continue to hoard and squander the resources of the Earth or we can protect them and use them sparingly in a spirit of equity.
We are being tenacious about change when we welcome it as an opportunity and intentionally participate in it. Even more, our rationale for participation in change as an opportunity should be to become better as people and to find ways to do better by others and with others. I’ve never been very good good at preventing change or running away and hiding from it – whether it comes as the blessing of providence or the curse of a pandemic. Hence, I’ve found the wisest course is to embrace it and participate in it for my own good and the greater good of others.
Nothing will be the same once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed…regardless of whether that happens in eight weeks or eighteen months. We will have been changed, our relationships will have been changed, and our world will have been changed. Some of the changes will be wonderful, some a bit weird, and some will be tragic. Still, the change is here and it is happening now.
What lies before us now is this question: Will we intentionally, consciously, and thoughtfully participate in the change to make the new paradigm better for everyone than the old one?
One of the most important things we can take from this experience with the pandemic is about the value of human connection and relationships. It is one of the most important lessons we can use to inform how we participate in the change and what the new paradigm looks like. While some are learning that human connection can be maintained, even strengthened, through technology, others are learning that technology alone was never enough. Still, we are learning again about the need for and power of human connection and relationships.
The power of relationships is not something new to me. It is something I learned many years ago but too often forget nonetheless. It is still important for me to recall and it is one of the first and most important things I share with new clients:
We are still a long ways from turning the corner on COVID-19. However, it is not too early for us to be thinking ahead. It is important for us to be thinking now about how life might be different and how we’d like it to be different. The relationship we choose to have with ourself will influence the relationships we will have with others and our world as a whole. We are celebrating Spring in the midst of a pandemic that is changing everything. However, we can still seize the change as an opportunity by tenaciously engaging in the process of relationship building as the most important work we can all do in this time.
Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and, please, consciously participate in the change to make the new paradigm better than the old one.