The Secret of Change is to Focus all of Your Energy, Not on Fighting the Old, But on Building the New.~Socrates
Change is something we are currently all facing in the world with a great deal of uncertainty and fear but, hasn’t change always been scary for most? It usually takes going through major changes to realize that maybe change isn’t all that bad after all. It’s usually not until we come out the other side that we find ourselves saying “oh, that wasn’t so bad after all”. From the time we were children, it was ingrained in us that change was scary. Think about the time you started at a new school? “Don’t worry honey, you will make new friends and everything will be okay”, our parents already warning us that this, is going to be difficult. What about the time you moved to a new apartment, started a new job or decided to get married? All seemingly remarkable life events that we should be delighted about yet, underneath all the joy our emotions are bursting with distress, apprehension, and trepidation. Today, with most of the world essentially in isolation or quarantine, this inherent fear of change that most of us have is operating at a peak. We are finding ourselves terrified at the abrupt and compulsory change that our daily lives have taken, with the added fear of the indefinite change that will evidently ensue once all of this is over. Heraclitus had so powerfully said, “there is nothing permanent except change”. If this is the case then why do we fear it so much? As a species, I believe we fear more the unknown then change itself. We fear the result the change will bring to the expectations the world around us will have on us as an individual – this can be attributed to the fact that humans are in fact egoistic – more than the actual transformation that is about to happen. “How will my life change? What will be different for me?
What if though, this current global crisis has arrived just in time to help humanity stop and reflect; to look at the bigger picture, to go back to basics? I do not say this in any way to disrespect those that have lost or are fighting for their lives but instead, as a way for us to ensure that the lives lost and the suffering endured holds some worthwhile, life-altering significance. What if the lives of those that have and sadly will perish as a result of this virus are being sacrificed to bring humanity to the next level? Through the darkness and out into the light.
I don’t think anybody can deny that the last few decades have seen humanity go down a terrible dark path. I mean, people have always been fixated on making more money and having more things but in the past, I felt that people were also likely to take time to reflect and delight in the simple things life had to offer more often then we see today. People spent more time with their loved ones – real-time. You could rely on your neighbour to pick up your kids from school if you were running late. Families had dinner together – without devices in each person’s face – kids spent time outdoors playing together and compassion was more readily a daily action. In the past few decades, we have increasingly seen human connection take on this unconventional role where people only communicate through a screen. In 2015, I wrote an article that reflected on a movie I had watched called Men, Women & Children. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/men-women-and-children-why-we-have-become-e-zombies_b_6822426 In the movie, it shows a group of people becoming what I called e-zombies. It illustrates how humans of all ages have become so attached and addicted to the virtual world and not only is it destroying our relationships, it is changing the face of how we communicate, how we interact, how we do our shopping and how we work. It has even gone as far as changing how people court each other for goodness sake. An act that is one of the most personal and intimate human experiences is now mostly done behind a screen? WTF? In essence, we have completely lost touch with some of our most basic human needs – physical and emotional connection. Isn’t it interesting that in a time that as a human species entirely, we have not only been neglecting this basic human need, we have been whole-heartedly pretending it does not exist. Isn’t it interesting then, that the moment it was taken away from us we find ourselves longing for it more than ever?
I truly believe that humanity had reached a point where we had lost ourselves. How many people have spent endless hours scrolling on some social media site literally like a zombie? I am guilty of it for sure. How many have hidden behind their smartphone cameras during a child’s performance instead of taking it in with your own eyes and feeling the emotions? I like to say that the device acts like an emotion/feeling filter. Finding us more concerned with the lighting, and screen size rather that actually watching what and appreciating the live experience. Only to find ourselves later re-watching it to actually see what happened. How many have been so wrapped up in the chaos that we ignore or half-heartedly listen to a story our child is telling us? We found ourselves rushing through our daily lives without a minute to spare except for our beloved smartphones. Somehow, our addiction to our phones has taken over our lives and we found ourselves getting all our satisfaction from our devices. Our senses muffled by all the noise, the confusion mounting. The sounds of text notifications, e-mails, social media post notifications followed by the sound of us rushing to see who it is or what was posted or how many likes we had. Afraid we may miss out if we don’t. For years this noise has been mounting all around the world. And not only has this noise been growing but we have also seen a rise in mental illness, obesity and what I believe to be a world full of more unfulfilled and unhappy people then we have ever seen before. Since the world has been in lockdown, even the earth has become less noisy. A study done in Belgium has shown that the lockdowns have changed the way the earth moves. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00965-x Could this be our opportunity to actually stop and listen again, to feel again, to reflect again? Could this be our opportunity to do our part collectively and not only stay home to stop the spread of this horrible virus but to also stop the spread of us all becoming human slaves to our smartphones and jobs? Could this be the change we have all been secretly longing for?
I have found myself evaluating the many things I considered of great importance in my life before lockdown and have realized that many of them, I don’t miss at all. I have found myself taking more time to truly listen to my children as they speak to me and feeling proud of that. I take time to actually talk to my mother and understand how she is doing and feeling rather than rushing through a conversation because I have something to do or somewhere to go. I have found myself slowing down and feeling more alive. I have reconnected on a genuine level with friends and family to make sure they are coping well. Albeit, there is no denying that these restrictions are very difficult on so many levels. What I am hoping for is that collectively, we will use this time for growth. A time to find the positive and reflect, maybe even ponder what all this is really for? A time where we hopefully reconnect on an authentic level first with ourselves and next with those closest to us. A time where change is exactly what our world was hoping for.
“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion.”
~ Arianna Huffington
May those that have died rest in peace. May those that are suffering be granted relief and may those in need of help find it readily from a helping hand.
With all my love…..Eleni