There are moments in our lives when time just seems to stand still. It may be a brief fleeting moment or one that lingers, searing into our memory a scene that will always be remembered. A scene that, in some way, will have a lasting impact or may even be one that changes the course of our life.
I remember the moment when I was sitting in 7th grade band class and the school intercom suddenly came on to announce that President Kennedy had been shot. Time stopped in that moment and seemed to stand still for the next 3 or 4 days, as the nation grappled with what had just happened.
As a college freshman, I remember the moment I got the call from my mom, saying come home, your dad’s going into the hospital for heart surgery. Even more vivid, is that last moment I saw him alive, as he smiled at me when they wheeled him into the operating room. Time seemed to stand still for that entire summer, as my mom, my two sisters, my brother and I, grappled to hold ourselves together as a family.
I remember walking into the break room at work on 9/11, standing there looking up at the TV, seeing the attacks unfolding on the World Trade Center. Time seemed to stand still with each picture that was broadcast in the following days of first responders shifting through the rubble.
More recently, I remember the moment the ICU doc pulled us into the hallway and in a strong but clear and empathetic voice, said “there is nothing more we can do”, as my late wife Kathy was losing her battle with cancer. Time stood still that day when friends and family streamed-in to say their goodbyes, while she lay there in a quiet coma.
Now, here it is April 2020 and life for everyone has started changing in almost everyway imaginable. At this point, I can’t say, “here is the moment it happened for me”. It is as if in “real-time”, time in some drawn-out, surreal way is now standing still. It’s like I’m watching a slow-motion movie of my life and all of life around me.
One of the main pictures that is getting seared into my brain, as the visual marker for this unprecedented time, is the thank you sign I see in yard after yard on my daily walks, honoring the front-line health care workers. Those walks are refreshing moments that help clear my head and allow me to reflect and recharge. They are moments when time actually seems to start flowing again.
Yet, when back “sheltering-in-place”, I find that strange sensation of time standing still again. Yes, I am busy doing work, phone calls, Zoom conferences, household chores and chiding my puppy dog to stop bothering the sore on her leg. Even with all the doing, the isolation looms large and the time available now seems endless.
I believe this experience is changing my life and all of our lives, in ways both seen and unseen at this point. This can also be a time to let go of some of that doing and allow for more deliberate reflecting and create a chance for making conscious changes. It’s back to what I said in my previous post: what do you choose?
It certainly may be that the best choice is to simply go back to as close to the way things had been before this Covid19 thing hit. On the other hand, while time is in this weird standing-still kind of place, it could be the opportunity to look for and then act on a couple of areas ready for a new approach or perspective.
Kathy Cramer’s last book was called, “Lead Positive – What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say and Do”. From that book, I want to paraphrase three powerful “what if” questions, as a way to think about what might be ready to change:
What if, this is a time to practice seeing more possibilities, in our individual lives and in the world around us, than the problems that we are inundated with everyday?
- As I said before, YES these are real problems to be dealt with AND we can also choose to find the opportunities – or possibilities – that might be waiting for us to act on, if we were to look.
What if, now is the time to start saying to loved ones and friends why they are so important to us and the impact they have in our life?
- This does not have to be a complicated thing, just a heart-felt expression. Try using the feedback template: What I appreciate about you is________; this is (you are) important to me because________; the impact this has (you have) on me is________.
What if, this could be a time to do one or two things that are out of our comfort zone, such that we can learn and grow in a new way?
- It is so tricky to self-initiate anything “out-of-my-comfort-zone” and that’s no kidding! And if time is “standing still”, then this just might be the right time to deliberately choose to try something new you’ve been thinking about doing, but putting off. Think about all the things you’ve been “forced” to do differently since we have been in pandemic-mode. What’s one more change at this point?!
And then alternatively, as I said, there is simply “going back to normal”. It could be this is a time to just be okay with the way things are. No need to look beyond life as it is now, no need to make judgments on something needing to be better or different. Let it be okay to simply find a way to return to normal when that time comes, even if it is a new normal.
Be easy about it, either way. Time may have the feeling of standing still for you, as it does for me…..and time is moving on, so we might as well be willing to go along with it! Make the choice that works for you and see the perfection for you in that choice.