For months now we’ve been midst of multiple crises that affect us all. A global pandemic. A devastated economy. We’re wondering what comes next. Will there be another surge of COVID-29 infections? Will schools re-open? What will happen to our economy and to those now unemployed? While it surely won’t be a smooth or perfect process, can we move forward in positive ways, envisioning new possibilities for ourselves and our society?
These and so many other questions can’t yet be answered. We’re still standing at the edge of a chasm, and we can’t yet see what’s on the other side. No one would wish for our lives to be upended as they have been. But within this crisis we‘re starting to see possibilities, glimmers of creative opportunities for moving forward into a better world.
Here are some that I’m beginning to see:
In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.
A chance to rethink our ideas about who we are, what we do and how we live and work. Are the ideas we hold about ourselves and our work based on our own values, or on external priorities and assumptions that we’ve internalized and acted on without question? In recent weeks I’ve shared passing and deeper conversations, with several young fathers who have talked how they’ve been deeply affected by the forced slow down. It’s given them time to think, and to spend more time with their families. “I wish I’d realized when I was younger,” said one, “That it’s not about always being busy, hustling for the buck. What it’s about is being there for my daughter and my wife.”
“I had to join the protests,” another told me. “I needed to do something that lined up with who I am and what I believe.”
A chance to re-imagine and re-tool our society and it’s systems. Why are we willing to be so dependent on cars for daily transportation needs? There are hints that perhaps we don’t have to, as shown by bicycle shops’ huge increase in sales here in Baltimore and across the nation (Cassie, 2020). Does learning take place only in classrooms? Could school become a hybrid of online and in-person offerings? Why do we continue to tie health insurance to employment? Why does child care continue to be so underfunded. Is it finally time to recognize this has to change? The nationwide protests against racist police violence have created a movement to shift funds and responsibilities away from police and use them in ways that, as Brandon Scott, Baltimore City Council President says, “…redirect our public dollars and reimagine public safety ….”
A chance to give grace. This is a time to give ourselves and one another grace, says independent writer and documentary producer Kerra Bolton. She writes that that giving grace is
… a three-part act of kindness. It requires a pause, recognition, and active devotion. The pause allows us to stop and breathe in the moment. It stops the emotions swirling in cyclones in our heads and bodies. Recognition is a mental spark that disassembles judgement and reorders it to a form of understanding. Active devotion means that we commit ourselves to considering the feelings of others and responding with kindness, even if we don’t agree.
It is time for us to call forth and share the deep kindness that Kerra writes of in her essay.
A chance to strengthen creative resilience. Jeffrey Davis, founder of Tracking Wonder and leader of the Tracking Wonder Quest calls for cultivating creative resilience to cope with the pandemic in ways that let us move ourselves and our society forward. “Creative resilience is the capacity to generate and act on positive solutions under the pressures of challenge and change. It is reimagining our environment and shifting our perspective to discover new possibilities, even when our fight or flight response is kicked into high gear,” he writes.
My favorite part of his article is the conclusion:
The fact that resilience can be cultivated through our everyday actions can give us hope. You can approach your inevitable challenges in work and in life with a more creative outlook marked by curiosity, experimentation, and even gratitude. Doing so can open your mind to reimagine what is possible so that you can direct your growth in this time of crisis to build the future you want for yourself, and those around you. And hopefully, as our global shut down has exposed so many poorly designed systems in our societies, perhaps our collective re-imagination will help us design new and better systems for work and for living. That’s creative resilience operating at its highest level.
What Opportunities Do You See?
Use these writing prompts to look inward to ask new questions, find new insights and generate creative ideas for moving toward an as yet unknown future.
- What opportunities am I seeing in the pandemic?
- What can I begin to imagine for the months and years ahead?
Hold these questions in mind and write freely for 5-20 minutes, seeing where your words take you. Express your deepest, most true thoughts. Don’t worry for now about spelling, grammar, punctuation. Just let the words flow.
Be curious. See what emerges and how it contributes to your coping, as we walk, one step at a time, through the weeks and months ahead.
Source and Credit
Ron Cassie, A World of Difference. Baltimore Magazine, June/July 2020, p. 54-56.
Photo: NL Seibel, 2012