by Neal Lemery
In this Pandemic, it has become too easy to simply put things off, to delay, to live a life filled with procrastination. What was normal life is mostly on hold. Social obligations, work projects, and most everything that is considered community life is now on pause. And, if something is on the calendar, there’s an excellent chance it will be cancelled or postponed.
The daily lesson is patience, seasoned with flexibility.
Being with others is now a health risk, a public issue of great concern. Gatherings without health precautions are seen as literally putting our lives at risk. I stay at home, and rarely go out in public, never without my mask and sanitizer, being a dutiful citizen, and a guardian of my family’s health, as well as saving my own life.
Community life continues, with virtual connections, personally distanced interactions, and being content to live our lives at home, avoiding the usual and expected social gatherings.
At the same time, I also need to move ahead, concentrating on the work that I need to do, advancing my projects and my commitments to improve myself and my community, being a nurturer, caregiver, and a catalyst for productive change.
It is easy to hide away, to be fearful of the world, and how it has changed and become more threatening. I could ignore all the strident political rhetoric, and the ragings of those fearful of being informed and logical analysts, but I’m a stubborn cuss.
I resist ignorance and lethargy. I want life to be better, and I’m driven to change the world and make it better. I believe action is better than being idle and letting life just pass me by. I’ve always been hungry for the truth, for the previously undiscovered reality and honesty of a situation. As a kid, I would often tax my family by persistently asking “why?” It remains one of my favorite words.
At a music camp, I was struck by the title of one of the camp teachers. She was the Instigator. She’d wander around, finding impromptu jam sessions, or a group of us gathering for lunch or refilling our coffees, and she’d start to instigate. She’d add a few licks to a jam session, or stir up a conversation about some aspects of music, and get us revved up. She’d sit in on classes, offering a lively riff or a fresh observation about our topic of the hour.
Every group needs an Instigator, a provocateur, the stirrer of the pot. Challenging old thinking and set-in-the-ways traditional activities is a necessary role. Too often, we become complacent.
The Pandemic has stirred us up, even though we are often required to be sedentary, or anti-social. But those concepts, I submit, are illusionary. Self-isolating just requires new approaches to how we engage with others, and how we still can be forces for change. We have more time for reading, for making music, writing, and for engaging with others, albeit virtually or those old fashioned methods of making a phone call and writing a letter. In those methodologies, I have found new paths to rich relationships, productive creativity and some deep discussions. Webinars and Zoom meetings bring me in touch with enlightening people from around the world, their voices a welcome addition to my home, which is now my classroom to the world.
I’m learning new skills, and finding new resources. I ‘m connecting with new voices and new philosophies, new ways of problem solving. When we are free to travel and to go to meetings and events, there will be times when I will choose to stay home and be a virtual attendee. I’ll save on travel time and travel expenses, and still have the benefits of being “present” and engaged. Yet, some events will be even richer for those intimate, one-on-one conversations, the side bars that make a meeting all the more fruitful.
Life is, after all, all about relationships, and being in the same room, fully engaged with all of our senses, often makes our experiences deeper and more satisfying.
Today, I’m more appreciative of nature, no longer taking for granted those rich moments of being observant, engaged in the natural rhythm of daily life. I’m finding time for solitude, and for just “being”, to be intensely satisfying. This is a time of tending to my soul, of tapping into the deep well of personal creativity and originality. Modern life has sidetracked me from such opportunities, and I’m grateful for this Pandemic time, to remind me of my own humanity and my own hunger to connect with the natural world, to be part of the world.
When I do engage with others, I’m more mindful, more thoughtful, and certainly more “present”, in mind, body, and in spirit. I live more slowly, more intentionally.
Like anything in life, we are changed by what we experience, what comes our way in our journey. After the Pandemic, we won’t go “back to where we were”. Humanity has never done that. We’ve always been changed, and moved to a different place, requiring us to have a different mind-set, and a different attitude about the world around us. Rather than fight against these changes, I believe we are called to embrace the changes, to learn and to adapt, and to be the change that we want to see in the world. I’ll have more choices on how I want to engage the world, to be an Instigator.