Experience: Emerge with the Moment
Earlier this spring, I was doing some clean up around the backyard planters. I cleared the brush covering the earth from the previous year. The now naked soil stood out starkly except for a few noble plants that overwintered. A tiny seedling was breaking through the soil announcing itself bravely from the earth. It still was clinging to its seed casing even as it extended the first new leaves. I stopped flat footed in awe of the whole thing: the sheer strength of new life lifting itself through dense dirt; the vulnerability of striking out into a totally alien territory of light and air; the audacity of intending to grow tall fibrous structures of inches or even feet; the incredible wisdom of piercing out from a dark, cozy home.
It was a moment of truly appreciating how change happens all around us and in every season and life form on the planet. Our fellow inhabitants don’t just change with the seasons, they emerge with the seasons. They emerge with the moment!
Relevance: COVID Emergence
Many of us are beginning to “emerge” from the lock down of this past year. We have our first indoor meal in a restaurant. Our kids are going to in-person classrooms. Friends greet us from a safe distance and then move in for an eventual handshake or hug. Meetings start gathering outside at first and then move indoors. We plan trips on airplanes or in cars complete with hotels and even resorts with activities. We humans are emerging too, like the plants coming out of the deep, cloistered soil. How will this look, how do we act, where will this lead, what new opportunities await us, is it safe, are our families safe? To answer these and countless other questions, it is clear that we must emerge with the moment as well.
Practice: Inspired by Nature
Knowing that lifeforms on this planet have a 3.5 billion year head start when it comes to emerging in moments of small and large change, here are some lessons for us humans to consider:
- Start small, persistently: Nature is cautious and yet persistent. It sets an intention and moves in the general direction while taking its time. So set an intention to rejoin pre-COVID activities while knowing it will be awkward, tenuous, and “weird.” You don’t have to come back fast and furious, but steady and carefully.
- Be aware and adjust: This is an incredible moment to pay careful attention to what is emerging. It’s easy to preconceive that things will be the same. But they are not the same and never can be. This truly is a unique step that scarce few or no living humans have experienced. Take the time to sense what is actually happening. Make adjustments as needed and let the complexity and messiness be exactly what it is. It is not like before.
- Enjoy it!: This is a time to savor new territory, much like a plant breaking into the sunlight. Be sure to allow space for enjoying the freedoms, pleasures, and newness of these first experiences. Shed a tear, shout for joy, do a dance. This is a time to celebrate coming through the other side of a dreadful pandemic (at least for now and in the United States).
- Allow grace: Not everyone will act in the same way. Some will be tenuous, others overt, some pensive, and a few stridently dismissive. Meet these people also as they emerge with a sense of allowance and grace. You can choose to flex and flow if you make it so. This is also what emerging looks like in practice, inspired by nature.