Some of us are better at seizing opportunities than others. The first step in seizing opportunity is recognizing it. Crisis is opportunity. The Chinese word for crisis has two characters; one representing danger, and the other opportunity. COVID-19 is dangerous. A pandemic is a crisis. Stay-at-home orders are devastating to the economy. But quarantining? That’s an opportunity.
If you don’t believe me, maybe the words of Albert Einstein will ring true in your ears. “In the middle of difficulty,” he said, “lies opportunity.” The adjustments we’ve had to make as a result of this virus have been difficult, no doubt. In his novel East of Eden, John Steinbeck wrote, “It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”
In our world of abundant resources, time is our most precious and we squander it. We spend it waiting in line to buy things we don’t need but can afford because we spend more time working than not. When we’re not earning our peanuts, we’re glued to our screens, inundating ourselves with social media and videos about tiger kings. This pandemic has given us an opportunity to change all that, to reconfigure our lives, not just by trading in handshakes for face masks, but by exchanging wasted time for time well spent.
Each of us finds ourselves in a situation that is perfectly tailored to the reexamination of our values. What is important to us? Loyalty? Honesty? Exploration? And how best to pursue our dreams when the world again avails itself to pursuit? It’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of our culture’s bent toward immediacy and lose sight of what matters to us most. The unprecedented circumstances we’ve been living in during the last few months have offered to shine a light on the course corrections we need to make. Are we willing to see?
Our society finds itself on the precipice of change, and it too must choose what it values. Being or doing? Individualism or collectivism? Do we continue to alienate ourselves from one another, and if so, by what needs are we driven? Is it our desire to be inclusive but our nature to be divisive? It’s convenient to pretend that everything is alright, but it isn’t. And perhaps we’ll never know exactly how much these stay-at-home orders and quasi-lockdowns did for the public good, but they sure called attention to some of the cracks in our foundation. Are we willing to listen?
Our world is reopening, but if it returns to what it was, we’ll have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Whatever the lessons we learned in our quarantines, we must remember them as that time comes to an end.
To where do we go from here?
Contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.