Faces of opportunity…

When my daughter was little there was a book I used to read her entitled: “The Monster at the End of This Book.” In it, the Sesame Street character, Grover, is afraid of a monster that is supposedly at the end of the book. It is a real page turner! Not to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it yet, but it turns out that Grover himself was actually the monster at the end of the book. He had allowed himself to be so scared imagining the worst only to find out the “monster” he had created was only in his mind. In many ways, this story is similar to how people are responding to the Coronavirus. Now, let me be clear, I do believe that this is a legitimate health crisis. However, I do not believe that this is the end of the world. It seems that crises like this push people to extremes. Some people fail to recognize the severity of the situation and others take the Chicken Little approach that “the sky is falling.” Neither of which are fair and balanced views. I think part of the reason for this is that our current threat is a submicroscopic speck that does not have a face. In the absence of actually having a face, people try to place a face on the danger, but just like Grover, much of the monster we are creating is of our own imagination. We catastrophize and make decisions that are not rational. (Like buying all of the toilet paper in Kroger.) The face that we create is almost always worse than reality. So, with all that being said, I want to suggest another potential face for this virus. The face I want to propose is one of opportunity. Every tragic or catastrophic event in history has offered humankind an opportunity. I recognize that this virus has caused major disruptions to our lives and thrown normalcy out of the window. However, maybe our version of normalcy needed thrown out the window. In this time of shutdown, changes have been made. Some want things to return to the way they were as soon as possible, but the way things were wasn’t exactly working well. Perhaps this moment in time is an opportunity for us to reconsider how we live our lives. We have the opportunity to re-examine what is important to us. Many of us have gone through the motions for years. Driven by routine and responsibility we have lived our lives mechanistically focusing only on paying bills, amassing stuff, and creating the “American Dream,” which by the way, is gradually becoming much more a dream than a reality. Our connections with others and even our families have suffered, but now during this time we have a chance to shift our priorities. We can make changes to our lives and priorities. We can create new ways to connect with our families and loved ones. We can better appreciate our connections with those around us and finally recognize that we actually do need one another. Rather than wasting energy creating a ravenous monster out of a tiny virus, perhaps we could rise to the occasion and grow from the hardship. Perhaps in spite of the suffering, we will reach the end of this book realizing that the monster was not as big, mean, and scary as we had imagined it. We might even reach the end to find that we have become better as people through this adversity. Sometimes the face of opportunity is difficult to recognize…

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