I’m sure we’ve all been thinking lots about the developing situation we’re living through at the moment. Between markets crashing, social distancing, school closures and home-working, the world looks very different than it did a few short weeks ago.
The below poem came through my inbox, this morning (thanks, Mum!) and it definitely resonated with some hopes I’ve had about the crisis.
IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC
And the people stayed home. And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and they healed the earth fully, as they had been healed.
My own thoughts aren’t nearly as well-formed or as beautifully stated, but they are along similar lines: that we use this opportunity to reset behaviours we’ve slipped into but haven’t so far had sufficient collective motivation to change. I’m thinking particularly of us travelling across oceans to attend a few days of in-person meetings, and our fixation on lengthy commutes for the sake of co-location. (I see myself as being one of the lucky ones, in that I work mainly from home, anyway, and much of my business travel these days is within Europe.)
As the crisis is likely to last more than a few months, we have an opportunity to implement real changes to behaviour. I think back to my family’s round-the-world trip in late 2017: after living from backpacks for 6 months we came back and had a two-week period where it felt strange (and even wrong) to be living in a house where we had a whole room each. After that fortnight was over, everything became normalised, once again: we’d slipped back into our former patterns and the window had closed. (As a bizarre side-note, we did use that window to take a fresh look at our lifestyle and so ended up buying a new sofa. Sigh.)
It hope these thoughts don’t come across as being overly idealistic or insensitive. The next several months are going to be really hard, and much harder on some than others. Aside from people becoming gravely ill – some of whom, tragically, will die – many people will end up losing their livelihoods and perhaps their homes. Many will feel trapped at home looking after children or family members. I’m already working from home, and my wife is anyway here to look after our children, but I also work for a company who is going to great pains to provide support for its employees and customers. I am lucky.
I have the luxury of being able to think about long-term behaviour change because I don’t feel as though I’m facing near-term hardships. Knowing that people out there are struggling, I’m going to do my best to help people who need it. I encourage you all to do the same: I have to believe that we can all come together and overcome these hardships without needing to buy guns or hoard toilet paper.
Get in touch if there’s something you think I can do to make your life easier during this period: I can’t promise I’ll be able to help, but I’ll do my best to do so (or help find someone else who can). It doesn’t have to be a big thing – we can just chat, if you need someone to talk to.
Take care of yourselves and your families during this strange and challenging time. We will get through it.