“We need to remember that circumstances don’t make a person,
they reveal a person. ” ~ Emma Jameson
When I was a 9th grader living with my family in Eugene, Oregon a freak and unexpected snow storm suddenly hit the area. I believe it remains the biggest and longest lasting storm recorded for that area. The streets were impassable for many days causing schools and businesses to close. Although much shorter in duration and causing isolation rather than requiring it, in some ways it was similar to our current situation with regard to the COVID-19 virus. We were all in it together.
For an adolescent, the sense of awe and wonder created by continuous snow falling onto the already deep blanket of white that occurred overnight was awesome! But as the extended forecast called for more and more snow, it was clear that our city would be paralyzed. If Eugene was a city in the Midwest it would have had ample equipment to clear the roads, buildings would not have had flat roofs which were not designed for the extra weight of several feet of heavy snow and homeowners would have had snow shovels and snowblowers to clear driveways and walkways.
After the initial excitement of being out of school began to wane, as an active teenage boy, I began to become a little stir crazy. I needed to get out of the house. I called my friend Doug, who lived several miles away. He and I often made the walk to one another’s houses to spend time together. While on the phone we decided that I would go to his house. Trudging through the heavy snow easily doubled the time it took to make it there. Along the way, I noticed countless people digging their way out of their houses. But I also noticed something else. There were houses with snow completely covering yards, driveways and walkways with no evidence of any attempt to clear it away.
When I made it to Doug’s house we exchanged normal greetings and small talk and then began to talk about how crazy it was outside. People were making their way through the snow to stores because driving, for the most part, was not yet possible. It also dawned on us that there may have been elderly people who needed help clearing walks and getting needed groceries and other necessities.
For the next 10 days or so, Doug and I, armed with snow shovels. spent our time clearing the driveways and walkways of people who couldn’t do it for themselves. We also helped shovel off the flat roofs of some local grocery stores, businesses and churches. We made runs to the store for some of the people who couldn’t make the slippery journey safely on their own. We also agreed that we wouldn’t take any money for helping because this was a time for people to pull together and help one another, not to take advantage of one another. (I’m pretty sure we ate our weight in a variety of different home baked cookies and sweetbreads, however -)
When school resumed several guys were bragging about how much money they made shoveling snow. An immature piece of me felt like Doug and I missed out on an opportunity. We could have made some serious money if we had knocked on doors and negotiated a price for what we did, but we didn’t. Looking back on it, I realized that we gained something money could never buy. At a time when teenagers were often looked upon as a group of undisciplined rebels, we were able to show another side often unseen by other generations of adults. We did the right thing.
Fastforwarding to the present, there is no doubt that all of humanity has been collectively thrust into uncharted territory. It is scary mostly because we can’t see what we are up against. Unlike the boogeyman of our nightmares, this foe is real.
My question today is, what will this crisis reveal about you and me?
With the requirement that we isolate ourselves from one another, what can we do to help? Aside from following the recommendations of the medical experts and government officials, what else can we do?
Because this is nothing we have experienced before in our lifetimes it will require some out of the box thinking. But in order to allow the required creativity, ingenuity and uncommon ideas to flow, we must not allow ourselves to become paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by stress. We must remain open minded and positive.
How do we remain cool, calm and collected during a world catastrophe?
For fun and in an attempt not to take ourselves too seriously, wife Amanda and I have followed Jason Kotecki and his wife at www.escapeadulthood.com for many years. The website is full of great tools and ideas to help establish the state of mind needed to move through difficult times like these. On the website Jason’s book, “A Chance of Awesome” is featured. It is complete with thoughts, stories and artwork that helps to lighten your heart and open your mind. Take a look at the website and read his book.
There are plenty of other “feel good” resources with ideas and true stories about people just like you and me that have done extraordinary things or even simple things that have made an extraordinary impact in the lives of others.
In the coming days, I will continue to search out tools, stories, quotes and videos to share. As difficult as this thing is, I have faith that mankind will collectively solve the problem and that we will come out on the other side stronger and better having experienced it.
So I close with this question: What will this experience reveal about you?
PS – We took a long walk today. The mountain was out. Feeling gratitude.