The particular crisis that we find ourselves in now has shifted time in a way that makes it feel more amorphous - the decade that was March, the moment of April, the year of May. The future feels so uncertain that we’re simultaneously stuck in the present moment and desperately trying to escape it - scrambling to adapt to new realities and sitting on the sidelines as passive observers to momentous change.
When you can’t see what the future holds you are forced to be in the present moment, going through the motions while you wait to see what happens next. For those of us who are planners, this is incredibly destabilizing because planning for the future is what keeps us moving and gives us a sense of purpose, something to aim for.
We’re also more disconnected than we’ve ever been from jobs, colleagues, loved ones, friends, activities that bring us joy. Networks and interactions that used to connect us to each other are replaced with new ways of interacting and isolation in many instances.
At the same time, we’re all scrambling to take on different roles and adjust to new realities - maybe you’re a homeschool teacher in addition to (or instead of) your normal job, maybe you’re sharing space with loved ones who are sick or need a place to stay, maybe you’re working more than you ever have before, maybe you’re not working at all.
Across the board, we’re having to rethink systems and structures that no longer make sense.
This disconnection and uncertainty about the future makes it feel like time is standing still and the world is going on around us. And wow…is it ever. This year we’ve seen such drastic changes in all areas of life and our world. When we’re also all going through massive adjustments and disruptions of our own, changes on the macro level can be too much to keep up with or we can use them as an escape from what we’re dealing with on a personal level. We also avoid the reality of what’s going on around us by hyper-focusing on work, tasks, and to do lists, escaping into binge watching and other addictions - staying just above the surface of what we can actually handle.
I simultaneously feel like I’m standing on the shore of a raging river watching it go by and being pulled along in a current I no longer control. I keep waiting for it to slow down so I can get back with the flow. What I’ve learned is that I never really controlled the current in the first place, I just fooled myself into thinking I did.
When the future feels uncertain it is hard to stay in this moment. The thing is, time is something you will never get back. This is a lesson I learn over and over again.
It is becoming increasing clear that, when this particular crisis is over, we’re going to step into a world that no longer resembles the one we left behind in March. Let’s take this moment to embrace our new roles and our new reality, shift our energy to flexibly planning for new possibilities instead of trying to escape an unpleasant present and uncertain future.