This week I've been thinking about flexibility, and the ability to move and adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I think some of us inherently have an easier time with change than others. It's a personality thing. And some of us have learned the art of adaptability - either by choice or by having change constantly thrust upon us during our lifetimes.
It's not always a useful trait, but it can pretty beneficial in times of crisis.
Growing up, my family moved constantly. I attended at least 13 different schools before graduating high school. I can't remember all the houses, apartments and mobile homes I've lived in over the years. Adapting to new people, environments and cultures is something I learned early. In fact, I'm one of those messed up people who feels really uncomfortable with *too much* stability.
So I will say that the last few weeks haven't been horrible for me. It's felt perfectly natural, actually, and almost a relief. Much of the time when things are going well, I feel anxious because there is *always* another shoe waiting to drop. When things start to fall apart, I feel something deeply instinctual kick in and it gives me clarity and focus.
But I also recognize that most people may not be as comfortable with change and/or crisis as I am. I know that America, as a whole, has been one of the most stable societies on earth for as long as I've been alive.
What is happening around us is unprecedented in many ways, and millions of people's lives and livelihoods are being impacted in all kinds of scary, terrifying ways. The fear and anger that many of us are experiencing is legitimate and should not be minimized. Pandemics are dangerous things that kill and destroy.
I'm saying all this because I've noticed a huge range of reactions to the recent changes in our society - millions now working from home, schools closing, government proclamations, etc. - some folks are thriving, some are struggling mightily. There are those who were already dealing with difficulties - mental and physical health challenges, financial troubles - and this situation has exacerbated these things. But it's hard to predict who might be having a hard time right now. Some folks who usually seem to be strong and invincible may be struggling, too.
So, if you're one of those who (like me) are doing ok right now, feeling in control and focused and strong, take a look around and see who around you might be falling apart, and use some of your strength to help them. Give encouragement, not scorn. Recognize that beating people over the head with demands for positivity when they are in a state of terror is cruel.
I don't mean that we should diminish our own strength and positivity if we're in a good place right now. I don't mean to stop putting goodness and light out into the world. We need that, too. Only, perhaps, recognize that all of us are not on the same page. And people we love, care for, and work with every day might need more than some inspirational quotes to make it through.
Practice empathy for those who are truly afraid. They need it. We need it. We all do.