There are times when we must speak, speak loudly and even shout from the rooftops to be heard, regardless, relentlessly and unapologetically because our words are the fire that burn in our bellies. They flicker with truth and hold a power unlike any other.
There are also times when we must listen, learn and try to better understand what is being said around us and to us— what has been left unsaid in purposeful silence– what should be said– and what soon will be told to the masses so that we. are. ready.
Perhaps time and experience teach us what we must do with less error. From baby… to child… to teen, then adult.
Should we share or listen this time?
Share and then listen?
Listen and then share?
Or… just listen intently?
We hope that children learn from their parents about the value of open dialogue, truth-telling, and effective communication. The give and the take. The dance of words that can change the course of time or mean nothing at all… A side bar that is best left forgotten or a lesson learned.
While it is easy to talk about what we ought to do and what we want to do as thoughtful people– big picture, I might suggest, it is our next conversation that is the most important determinant of who we are deep down as it broadcasts how we are evolving.
It’s in the everyday exchange that we must inspect— as truths reveal themselves through family, friends, neighbors and strangers—the people we follow, and the people we work beside or for.
Each word that leaves our lips… a decision… a path forward… a mark made on the world and the people around us even if we cannot see their faces.
My mind wanders towards a seamless conversation I had recently…
I listened. I was heard.
I felt empowered and far wiser.
A mind changed. New perspective.
A pattern followed by a deep breath of shared satisfaction… I would like more of those, I tell myself. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t we all? But we don’t live fairytale lives, at least I don’t know anyone who did or does.
Plus, COVID-19 has changed everything.
It changed the rules. It roughed us up. It made us all more uncomfortable… uneasy and afraid. The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities within ourselves, within our relationships and within our communities. It was a hard hit- the sick… and the dead. Too, too many deaths. Tears. Loss. Families broken. A recession- high unemployment, fewer contract hours and unsafe work environments would follow. Tough but necessary decisions must be made about risk again and again and again. What factors changed this time?
Throw the dice… money versus health… food today. Medicine. No job. Hospital bills. A forced closure of a small business. Bankruptcy, bailouts, cleaning products and facial coverings. Investments made and investments lost– in seconds.
Frustration, anguish, and anger have brought us to our knees as we type… type… type on our computer keypads and hide from others in a grocery store aisle as if they had fangs and a cape.
Fewer eyes finding connection inches away—
Limited non-verbal cues in a Zoom video conference box replaces a once boisterous office meeting full of firm handshakes and the smell of a hot pot of coffee.
We have been overtaken by the unknown.
Feel real fear, anxiety and dread.
We must practice self-isolation because we are “high risk” or we must risk our own lives, working harder than ever before as “essential workers” in a hospital ER.
Open. Closed. Open. Closed.
Phase 1, 2 or 3.
Time and space have either slowed down or sped up or both– or neither–or….
I get it. I feel it. It is difficult to know how to be– say and listen to learn— when there is so much grey and perhaps a greater inability to make plans tomorrow, next week and next month.
It’s a Mike Tyson fight that never seems to end as the weeks and months go by, now broken up by an ever-increasing roar… words… so many words…
The COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic downturn.
The Black Lives Matter movement. Protests across the country and worldwide.
This is a lot… and it’s okay to not be okay– at certain times– and on certain days. It’s okay to feel and share– use your voice to tell truths — and deliver a message… a warning. In fact, it ought to be applauded ALWAYS, but we must also listen.
We must listen to what we don’t understand and listen when we do not agree. We must participate in more moments where we can tastefully agree to disagree, while respecting the open dialogue and other party. Their unique value. Their contribution. Their point of view.
We are a team… this community of ours, like it, hate it, despite it, own it…or love it and grow it.
We are a we… not a me, not a you, not a you versus me in a battle of good and evil. We are a we… A we that must decide who we are and what our tomorrow will be.
Let’s keep moving forward and together interfere with the undesirable amount of madness that plagues our world — by dosing it with honest and raw communication.
There is a leader in all of us.
A self-aware man or woman who values integrity, inclusivity, fairness and freedom.
An individual who values family, friends and community.
An individual who in crisis uses their voice for good but also listens hard to create positive change for you. for me. for we. for us.