Right now, the best thing we can do for the people we care about most, is to stay away from them.
I’m agnostic. I grew up in an Italian household that celebrates all of the traditional Catholic holidays, but in my adult life it’s really been about getting together with family and keeping tradition alive.
I looked at my calendar today and amidst my scheduled client calls I saw the only other highlighted day on the calendar: Easter Sunday.
A strange realization to think that this year, a day typically marked by family, happy pastel colors, and the symbolism of spring blossoming is going to pass us by just like any random Tuesday. There was a sense of frustration and loss in seeing that day on the calendar. A sense of being robbed of one of the very things that makes life worth living: Time with loved ones.
I value time with family and loved ones more than anything else. It’s the reason I moved back to the east coast from Los Angeles. It’s the reason I visit my parents regularly.
It’s also the reason I haven’t seen them in weeks. I’ve been solo in my apartment, physical distancing from those I’d normally be seeing on a regular basis.
As someone who’s worked from home for years I’ve adjusted relatively well, save boredom and antsy days. But, seeing Easter Sunday on the calendar gave me a different perspective towards all of this.
Normally around this time of year as spring emerges and flowers bloom, the calendar would be filling back up with social activities. Car shows, fun events, get-togethers with friends, quality time with those we care about the most.
The essence of life is the shared experiences we have with those we care about. In a unique and unpredictable time when those are the very thing being taken away from us, it serves as a stark reminder of just how important it is.
I’ve had speaking engagements canceled, weddings postponed, events taken off of the calendar; as everyone reading this has as well. The entire world seems to have pressed a giant pause button that has forced us all to slow to a snail’s pace.
We can use this time wisely, though.
A temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.
The way I see it, there is opportunity here. Opportunity for growth, for connection, for gaining clarity around priorities and purpose. Notice the changes in focus happening in the world around you.
Wealth has taken a backseat to health. Material concerns are overshadowed by a restricted social life, all of those new outfits in your closet are going unworn because there’s nowhere to wear them to.
Our places to gather, whether it be a dive bar or a 5 star restaurant, are closed up for an uncertain amount of time. It suddenly reminds us that the atmosphere never mattered, just the people in it do.
The alternative now is spending time alone, or those you live with. Extended solitude is not something most people are used to or particularly enjoy. But…
There is strength in solitude.
Too often, we avoid silence and stillness because our primitive brain tells us that it will, quite literally, kill us. Being separated from the pack, alone, sitting prey for the bear or sabretooth tiger.
Or, society prides itself on being busy. If you’re not busy, you’re not productive. So we fill our space with tasks with no actual guarantee of them actually being productive.
Being alone and listening to yourself is not only beneficial — but necessary — to live a full life. These are the times when you hear your own thoughts and not those of a buzzing city, noisy subway ride, or honking horns in traffic. These are the times when your mind wanders to where it truly wants to be. These are the times that you understand who you truly are, and what YOU truly value.
I believe this is going to cause a shift in perspective.
Those who are willing to be reflective during this time are going to question what they’ve been loyal to for past years. What society has told them they should want, or what actually makes them fulfilled.
Stop and allow yourself to feel what it is you’re truly missing during these times. And, stop to allow yourself to feel deep gratitude for what you still have.
Taking a step back and sitting in these feelings will bring you a deeper sense of understanding about what your life should really be centered around.
It is not every day we get this opportunity.
Often times humans need to lose something, or someone, to look back and wish we’d done things differently. To wish we spent more time with that person, or made those plans we put off, or answered that phone call instead of sending it to voicemail.
Too much time wasted on petty jealousies or watching a movie for the 6th time because we’re tacitly assuming that we’ll live forever, only to one day be reminded that’s never the case.
Usually when these realizations rise above the surface, it’s too late.
But, not this time.
This time we are being starkly reminded of what matters and what we need to focus on. Our health, our relationships, the fragility of human life and how it must be honored and respected if it is to flourish.
This time, we have a chance to act, to change, to improve.
This time we have the rare opportunity to emerge the other side better than before. To have another chance.
It rained all week here in the New England area. This morning, the sun has come out and the birds are chirping — serving as a reminder that no matter how harsh the storm, the skies will always clear eventually.