I remember my first blog posts of this year, 2020. I loved the pun I could make with “2020 vision” - how this was going to be a year of clarity, growth and the excitement that would be precipitated by these revelations and changes.
Expect the Unexpected
I wasn’t expecting the challenge of COVID-19 and the pandemic. And you weren’t either. Nor was most of the rest of the world.
Yet, progressive scientists and other tuned in minds have been warning us about the probability of this happening for years. We didn’t really pay attention, and without the crisis actually happening and directly affecting our lives, we just went on with our usual routines, work and activities.
As recently as September of 2019, a world threat was predicted: “A new independent report compiled at the request of the United Nations secretary-general warns that there is a “very real threat” of a pandemic sweeping the planet, killing up to 80 million people.” Laurie Garrett – ForeignPolicy.com
· It would be airborne.
· It would be contagious during the "incubation period," before people show any symptoms, or when people have only mild symptoms.
· It would be a microbe that most people are not immune to, so there would be a large population of susceptible human hosts.
· There would be no existing treatment or means for prevention like a vaccine.
This is one very relevant example of an unexpected catastrophe that has created havoc and suffering in the world.
It begs the questions of how can we manage our lives during this and other chaotic, unpredictable times?
Are there any benefits to a state of disorder?
In fact, there are a number of benefits and good possibilities.
People tend to get into routines. And it’s not that we’re lazy, it’s just that we become habituated. We like having comfortable rituals. Unless we’re challenged, it takes a lot of effort to rethink and put into effect new ways of doing things, even though they might actually add interest or improvements to our lives
The Pandemic is a form of Chaos and disorder that has taken a bad toll on many lives around the world. And yet, the disorder can lead to new opportunities and solutions that are sometimes at least a little exciting. They keep us on our toes, and make us sharper and smarter. Three benefits of embracing chaos.
1. Chaos opens the doors to many more possibilities than we considered before. A number of years ago I was faced with a major life change. After a long marriage, my relationship came to a grinding halt. Everything suddenly changed and while that felt shocking, disorienting and uprooting, in the abyss of turmoil there were many opportunities.
In the wake of the jolt to everything I cherished, I gathered my courage, my computer, some clothes and vitamins and drove to Manhattan from New Hampshire where I had lived for 14 years. I spent the next year renting a friend’s condo on Columbus Circle and beginning to rediscover myself. I did things I’d never done before. I walked 10 – 15 miles every day, including the whole of Central Park and excursions into neighborhoods I hadn’t seen before. I tried new things like foods, exercises, books, interests – art, music, literature, gatherings of different kinds of people.
I recited Poetry in a public poetry group. 2. Chaos brings challenge and growth as we rethink how to get the results we want in a different environment. I’ve always been a problem solver, committed to leading an interesting, positive and helpful existence. I love learning new things and teaching them. Among my self-discoveries in the City was that I loved taking photos - in the park, on the street, of architecture and art. I enjoyed contrasts of light and dark, of shapes, of colors. I decided to create a photo book called My Central Park. I also started a series of articles on loss in relationships and how to find yourself. My TEDx Talk that resulted from this exploration has resulted in well over a million views.
3. Chaos forces us to try something different which might actually be better than what we did or had before. I couldn’t stay in the sleepy little town in NH by myself. My world of work, friends and acquaintances were scattered around the globe. In NH, everyone had kids and went to school meetings where they shared homemade chocolate chip cookies and recipes for parenting. While it was a comfortable, safe haven for my marriage, there was nothing there for me as a single, professional woman. Life in NYC was alive and vibrant. The sounds outside my window woke me every morning with hopeful anticipation of a new adventure and they were there everyday for the taking.
Although I was grieving the loss of my relationship and all the trappings that went with it, I found myself anew coming together into a redesigned iteration of myself despite and because of the chaos.
The COVID-19 challenge has thrown many of us into a surprising and unexpected way of living.
Who would have ever thought . . .
that we would spend months in lock down,
that we would be wearing face masks and if we didn’t it could be part of a political POV,
that we would be conducting the majority of business and educational efforts and even spiritual practice online and probably should have bought stock in Zoom long ago,
that we probably wouldn’t be shaking hands or hugging more than just people in our very immediate families for unknown time to come.
And here we are with no treatment or vaccine for at least the near future. In fact, in a study conducted by the New York Times, a statistically significant sample of 511 epidemiologists, stated they would not get on an airplane for the next 2 years because of the risk of transmission. Nor would they be likely to take part in 19 other risky situations until there was a cure and vaccine.
We’ve had to look for solutions to supporting our ways of life.
For example, how can we maintain connections while being safe and practicing safe social distancing.
For one, we need to redefine the term. It’s not social distancing, it’s physical distancing that creates safety. In fact, we now need more social contact to make up for lack of physical proximity. That’s why Zoom has zoomed in popularity.
Video conferencing allows us to . . .
Connect with others so we can see them and feel closer to being in the same space, Share experiences – dining separately but together, celebrating life events
Take classes or participate in support sessions with people from anywhere.
Since COVID-19. . .
I changed our second bedroom into a cozy office for myself instead of using the dining room table as my home office. And in fact, I’ve decided to give up my outside office. For the near future, at least, I will continue my practice on the phone or remotely. When it’s safe to see people again, I have a beautiful space to offer them.
I started an online support group for Stress and Anxiety, especially during this time of upheaval and uncertainty.
We’ve been renovating an old home for eventual resale. It’s become our gym because of all the exercise we get from painting, gardening, etc.
We created a weekly online Tango class and dance event, where people can take lessons from our favorite instructors and practice dancing to beautiful music that we broadcast through the opp. It took a little while to learn how to share screens and videos and music on Zoom, but now I’ve got it down to an easy operation.
How have you dealt with sudden changes in your life? What might you share that could bring some fresh ideas to others?
You can write me at DrSharonLivingston@gmail.com I’d love to hear your solutions and ideas.
Chaos ignites our creativity and helps us be innovative.
So despite the scare, the inconvenience and disruption, I invite you to be creative and take the challenge.