From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – These are unprecedented times – scary, anxiety-provoking and overwhelming, with the added challenge of toilet paper thrown in to keep us off balance. The interesting part of what is happening is that it is worldwide, that as a global community we are facing a threat and mobilizing in each country to try to minimize a curve of contracted cases. There are lay-offs, closures, plunging finances, unknown futures.
Where do we look for hope? Where do we find the sunshine that moves the shadow to our backs?
The hope is where it can so often be found – in each other. It is in the cashier at the store who greets us warmly with a smile after being asked for the 500th time when the next shipment of toilet paper will be in; it’s the neighbours and friends who phone to make sure that we have what we need; it’s the Facebook posts of hope and caring. I’ve seen many videos of the isolated residents of Italy singing from their balconies together – singing in hope with each other in a country that is not flattening the curve at all.
Our best selves are to be found when we look to make the lives of others better. These are scary and overwhelming times, we have to face each day the threat of a virus that has turned the world upside down. What can you do on this day to make one moment of hope or light, or of less fear? What are we in control of?
I am reading a book right now by Drew Dudley that talks about making each day you are a leader like your first day. In it he speaks about the impact that we have each and every day to help someone reach a goal, become a better person and create remarkable stories. He discusses a moment that made an impact on someone by offering a lollipop – his lollipop moment has gone on to be the hallmark of his TED talk, but in summary he made an impact by offering a lollipop that ended up changing the trajectory of someone’s life. And while he was thanked years later by the recipient of this huge life-changing gesture, he has no recollection of it.
This is the kind of impact we can have in these troubled times – seek out the opportunity to lift someone else out of fear for a moment, look a for a chance to make someone smile. There will come a time when this great challenge is one of our often told hero stories in our elder years. Recognizing each other as the heroes of this opera, looking at the people that surround us and know that they are equally scared and anxious but also being creative and kind and present.
Look for the moments of sunshine and call them out, grab onto them and celebrate each other. I have a bunch of sisters-in-law (six brothers), and one is very shy and quiet but with a wicked sense of humour. Fearing layoff she joked that she may have to return to stripping. This is a hilarious statement if you know her quiet withdrawn personality in and of itself. She followed it up by saying that she is even working on her routine – she calls it, “You can leave your mask on”- a moment of sunshine in the rain.
Why is social distancing so hard? It’s hard because we are hard-wired for community, for leaning on each other, for wandering the desserts and forests in tribes to survive the wrath of the sabre-tooth tiger; we are built to social connection. Lets keep the connection in the distance, keep the sunshine in front of us and command the fear to fall behind. We are quite literally all in this together.