We all know the old saying about turning lemons into lemonade. Well, the present global situation is making it difficult for even the most ardent of optimists to accomplish that bit of alchemy. But difficult or not, there is a corner of the human spirit that strives to find the positive even in the most negative of situations. I was reminded of this by a friend who told me she was starting to collect a list of positive changes which the pandemic have brought about: ‘I’ll put it in a google doc and send it around,’ she said. And I recently read this wonderful statement in an article called What Good Leadership Looks Like During The Pandemic published in the Harvard Business Review: “Without hope, resolve is impossible” I now have that tacked on the wall above my desk. On the same note, there is a very moving video which has been circulating lately called Tell Me The Story About the Virus by the wonderful performer who calls himself Probably Tom Foolery. This is one of the most optimistic explorations of the pandemic that I’ve seen yet. Watch it. It will do you good.
For me, the most positive adaptation that I am experiencing comes from Writing Through, the non-profit I founded and run. Our goal has always been to use the tools of creative writing to develop thinking skills, language fluency and self-esteem. Up until now, our workshops have been delivered predominantly to other partnering organizations where we embed ourselves for up to a week, working exclusively with the people they support . The idea of providing public workshops is something we have always wanted to do, but have been unable to do in any significant way, mainly for logistical reasons. But now, here we all are, all around the world, stuck in our houses or apartments or dormitories, all looking for ways to do something meaningful and fun, to reconnect to a world which is more isolated than ever. Not all of us have access to the internet. But for the many that do, we can now provide our public workshops through platforms like Zoom. And because of this, we are suddenly doing something new and extraordinary – we are bringing together people from across nationalities, generations, time zones, socio-economic backgrounds to produce creative responses to a situation the entire planet is experiencing. Already we have held workshops where participants have come from Mexico to the US to Thailand to Cambodia, and places in between. And for free!
So, is this post a plug? Well, yes. But it is also something else. It is the realization that this crisis, while being totally traumatic, has also delivered opportunities. While making the world seem smaller, it has also made it much bigger. We may be behind closed doors, but we are finding new ways to connect with each other across thousands of miles.