How do you want to complete this sentence: "When I look back on this pandemic, I want to remember it as a time when I..."
Helping our children have an ongoing academic experience during the pandemic is a challenge not only for our schools but for ourselves. We're reactivating the parts of our brains that vaguely recall geometry and have a passing recollection of chemistry.
However, both the challenge and the opportunity for adults is making this a time of growth for ourselves. I'm not talking about all the offers for free or minimal-fee workshops, webinars and courses filling our inboxes daily. I'm not even talking about you reading a book a week or teaching yourself a language ("I will be smarter by the time this pandemic is over, I will, I will!").
What I am talking about is allowing yourself the time to do what we usually classify as "doing nothing." Pre-pandemic many of us were willing, if not eager, participants in the busy-ness Olympics. Were you busier than others? Busier than many others? Were you busier than most?
As the shelter in place drags on, if you've been feeling guilty about not being as industrious as you were when it began, I invite you to re-frame how you're evaluating this time. I'd like you to think of this time as one time when you give yourself permission to simply be. To observe. To pause, and to not judge it or yourself.
There is a reason so many of us have had our most creative ideas while we were in the shower or out for a run. These are often the times when you have allowed your mind to wander off only to have it return with a solution to a problem you've been struggling to resolve. That's the time your mind, freed from all the sensory overload, can play with and create new connections. It's when your analytical and process-focused left-brain can quiet down to allow your creative and imaginative right brain to shine.
In his book Transitions, William Bridges talks about what he calls the "fertile emptiness." He writes, "We need not feel defensive about this apparently unproductive time-out of turning points in our lives for the neutral zone is meant to be a moratorium from the conventional activity of our everyday existence. In the apparently aimless activity of our time alone we are doing important inner business."
What is the inner business YOU are doing? Will you give yourself permission to ask questions for which you have no answers and what will those questions be? What richness might they yield?
The answers will only come to you in that "fertile emptiness" of time when you believe you are dong nothing and in fact, are doing the most important thing of all, just being.