That phrase has been running through my mind a lot as of late. The social distancing of the last three months is taking a toll, but I struggle with feelings of sadness by focusing on the future and the new memories that will be made. In doing so, I sometimes overlook the opportunity to take note of the moments happening right now. So I thought I’d use this week to help us all be a little more present.
Do you wake up in in the morning and read the news on your phone? I do. I spend a distinct period of time focused in a world that fits within a 6.1 inch display. I digitally wander around aimlessly reading theories, possibilities and conjecture about the state of the world, the economy and more.
When I feel I’ve finally arrived at the end of the internet for that day, I put down my phone and look up. It takes a few minutes for my eyes to refocus on the world outside my window. Those few moments serve to remind me that even though the greater world may be beyond my fingertips, my immediate family and my community are not.
Most of the time, while I sit and write in the office, I see people walking, jogging or riding bikes. There are kids playing in the street and the sounds of splashing in pools. Dogs are barking, birds are chirping, and life is making its sound. I hear time ticking by outside our door, and I remember that the world doesn’t stop for anything, and that change is the only constant in the world. If you want to win a bet, bet on change.
I’m lucky to live in the suburbs where I can get outside and merge into that life I just mentioned. We are witnessing that perceived value of the ‘burbs and the rural areas rise. People are leaving the big city. Telecommuting and remote work are changing that forever. The demands of maintaining a “city lifestyle” are becoming less and less important to people. What’s important are communities and getting outside.
So… about that silver lining.
It’s taken a global pandemic for people to be reminded of the world outside that little 6.1 inch screen. It’s taken a global lockdown for people to be reminded that there’s more to life than keeping up with the Joneses (especially when you realize the Joneses were trying to keep up with you and it’s just a vicious cycle). It’s taking isolation to remind us how much we value social interaction with others.
It doesn’t mean we’re going to toss our phones in the trash. They are still a valuable piece of our day. They’re just being relegated to what they’re supposed to do: save us time so we can get back to what’s important rather than suck all the energy from our day.
So. with that, go and get outside if you can. Stop reading this article and reach out to someone. Go for a walk, don’t look down, but look up. Look around. Wave to people and treat them in a way that makes them feel appreciated.
Those people are your neighbors. They are your community, and community is going to become a central part of the American experience again for years to come. We will all get back to travel some time, but you always come home to somewhere, which is the central part of who you are.
In that, I find a silver lining.