In the face of the coronavirus and all of the restrictions it is bringing into our lives, the social scientist in me wants to know how this will change us in the future, what lessons will we have learned about ourselves that we will take into our future? 

For myself, I have been working for a very long time on “being” more and “doing” less.  My life has always revolved around a running list of things to do, places to go, people to meet.  It seemed like the more I did the happier I was, until I began to realize that I was doing so much that I wasn’t happy anymore.  That was a revelation to me, and I began to realize that my identity was tied up around what I did, not who I really was.  I pledged to go deep inside myself and find what was most important to me, and only say “yes” to things that followed the path of this vision for myself.  Until March 2020, I was doing a not-so-great-job of this, albeit improving on my normal.  But when the coronavirus “stay at home” orders hit, I found a new level of just being.  My work slowed down, I wasn’t doing any traveling. I began to read more often, I read poetry and signed up for a series of talks by David Whyte, one of my favorite poets, and spent time just getting lost in his voice as he read many of his poems and other poet’s works as well. 

But, most interesting of all, I observed and noticed spring as it came in.  It sounds like such a silly thing to say, but I don’t think I have ever noticed how the winter changed into spring in such a profound manner.  Each morning, the light would shine through my bedroom window, illuminating the forest outside my window.  I watched as the forest floor turned from brown to green, the big leafy plants that came in first, and the others slowly following.  I watched the trees slowly bud, some trees faster than others, and the different colors of the forest floor and the trees as the moved into full leaves.  The Cherry Blossoms came out first and went quickly, littering our yard with tiny pink petals.  The choreography of the flowering trees was amazing, some blooming early and others blooming later, but always a flowering tree to behold.  The bright green of the new leaves turning into a darker green of the summer leaves.  And then, noticing the different types of birds that came to the bird feeder-the yellow finches, the male and female cardinals mating and beginning to make their nests, the red headed woodpeckers and the round bellied blue birds.  The birds used a Crepe Myrtle tree as a landing area as the waited their turn at the feeder, birds of a similar size eating together, and then giving way to the larger birds as they flew to the feeder. The weather, so unpredictable in the spring, went from cold enough for a fire in the fireplace, to hot enough for shorts and tee-shirts within days.  And in between those days, so many days of rain that poured down as I watched it through the windows.  None of this unusual in any way for any spring, but the awakening of my senses to the beauty and flow of spring was most unusual.  It gave me pause to consider that the benefits of awakening into awareness of what is going on around me, versus rushing through the world on “fast”.  So this was what “being” looked like. It was a beautiful learning for me.

Based on my experience, I’ve taken to asking my coaching clients a series of questions around these thoughts as we slowly move into our new normal of living with the fear of coronavirus-

  • What has been your biggest challenge during this time?
  • What asset or aspect of your personality has been most useful for you during this time?
  • What have you been doing that you weren’t able to do before?
  • What has shifted for you?
  • What will you do differently when this is over?
  • And, of course, my favorite-“What are you more aware of?”