Today is January 17, 2021 /
My kids are home. Even an adult child I thought would never live at home again is home. Yesterday, we spent 8 hours in the house, each of us in zoom meetings on 4 different devices, unable to say a word to each other let alone bake a cake—all in the name of staying connected. Something is wrong.
Schools are determined to cover all of the regular curriculum. Organizations are scrambling to provide online content and promising to continue business as usual. Meanwhile people are breaking down, not because of anything actually happening but from their fear of what might be to come.
We are so busy clinging to the past or imagining a dreaded future that we are failing to embrace the present–A crazy, wonderful, frightening situation unlike anything the world has ever known. But only if we are willing to lean into this experience, to embrace rather than resist it, can we learn the lessons and receive the gifts that this moment has to offer.
I don’t want to look back on this time—and we will all look back on this time for the rest of our lives—and feel that somehow I squandered it. I want to savor and enjoy this time with my family, to take cheer and inspiration from the crocus that is bravely blooming in my yard. The fact that next week or next month might bring grief doesn’t make this impulse naive, it makes the opportunity we have right now more precious.
So why aren’t we doing it? I have a few thoughts, none of them easy. First, of course, is that this moment is fear-laden and fear is a feeling we would rather avoid. Better to stick our heads in the sand and speak into a microphone than lift our gaze and feel the churning in our stomach. But there’s more at play to stop us from playing, and perhaps this is an opportunity to ask ourselves a few hard questions. For instance, is there a way in which we have become addicted to our busyness? For many of us, chronic busyness is a place to hide, and we don’t know what to do without it.
Second, do we need to shift our thinking about time at home and how it matters? Our culture devalues the home in favor of the public sphere, and the workplace in particular. Years ago, when I first decided to leave my dream job to raise my dream children, someone to whom I was introduced said to me, “And you do nothing, right?” We need to affirm the value of time spent with family. It is NOT doing nothing. Lastly, and this is the hardest one for me right now, has our family forgotten how to spend time together? Now that my kids are grown and their interests diverge, do I know how to bring everyone together for shared and meaningful time? Maybe not, and that’s hard to admit. But let’s not shy away from the challenge, let’s take the gift this opportunity provides and explore what is possible.
So let’s calendar a plan. Shall we say Tuesday, March 23 at 2:00 P.M. EDT? I invite you to join me, not on Zoom, but by being in the room.