The Opportunity Within the Necessity
As most of us remain largely home-bound, our natural and appropriate tendency is to focus on the immediate needs of the moment. How am I going to keep myself and my family safe? Where am I going to get groceries? How will I manage with health conditions for which treatment has been delayed or postponed? How will we pay our bills? How can we minimize our risk of exposure (particularly for those of us engaged in providing essential services)? How can we manage teleworking and home schooling at the same time? How can I avoid isolation and loneliness? How can we maintain our connection with the FUUSN community? It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of our daily lives as we try to adjust to this new “abnormal” normal. This is particularly so given the uncertainty of what awaits us as members of the FUUSN community and the larger national and global community over the coming months. Yet this focus on the immediate, explicit necessities of the situation can occupy our entire attention and result in overlooking the implicit opportunities that are resident in every situation in which we find ourselves, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has intensified the necessities of the moment, but in doing so, it has also magnified the opportunities. Each one of us has the potential to engage in a practice of discerning opportunities and working towards their realization. We can do this both in our individual lives and through contributing our ideas and insights, our passion and our sense of commitment to the community as a whole. So how do we discern these opportunities as they pertain to ourselves and the FUUSN community? How do we allow them to guide our actions going forward over the next several months?
I want to share a six-step process I’ve worked out for myself. Your process might be somewhat different, but I expect it will involve most of these steps. All of this can be done by oneself, but it will likely be much more powerful and generative when we do this through conversational sharing and listening with others.
The first movement: start with a deep and profound acceptance of what is, just the way it is, no matter how threatening or intimidating or destabilizing it may be. Acceptance releases us from our resistance and our reactivity and allows us to open to the immediacy of the moment in all its terror and its beauty. Acceptance clears a space and frees up energy that we can devote to the discovery and exploration of the possible.
The second movement: Find the small still place within you from which you can connect with all that is good in yourself and in this world even in the midst of this situation of daily struggle with life and death. The place from which you can move again, and breath again. If you find difficulty with this, try discovering for yourself the one small thing you can do next, the one small move you can make that will move you in that direction, a step closer to a moment of love, appreciation, gratitude for all that is literally good in this moment.
The third movement: Be certain you are crystal clear about what really matters to you, what your sense of purpose calls you to, what and who you truly care about. If you know all this already, remind yourself of it. It bears reminding because it is easy to lose sight and forget all this in the heat of the moment. If you are not clear, no problem. Just practice acceptance with not-knowing, with confusion, and trust that clarity about this will emerge as part of your discovery of what is possible. Part of the opportunity implicit in the situation at hand is the progressive emergence of this clarity.
The fourth movement: Focus on what is presenting itself as a possible movement forward from the present situation. Opportunities may present themselves initially as little more than a felt sense in the body. They may need to be explored and given time. Sitting with that felt sense for as long as it takes to emerge in the form of words and explicit vision may be important. Allow the cycle of feeling and reflection to unfold for as long as needed. This can take minutes,hours, days, weeks, even months. If more than one opportunity is present, take the time to explore each with your imagination, sensing what it would be like to move forward, realizing each opportunity in turn. Allow your inner wisdom to choose what feels right. When an opportunity feels pregnant with possibility, unleash your imagination and project your vision out as far as it will take you.
The fifth movement: Hold your vision close. Take small actions in words or deeds that begin to confirm or disconfirm its initial viability and also open up new possibilities. Be alert to the immediate and larger world around you because we are all interconnected and the world will be unsparing in providing its feedback. Recycle the feedback and revise and revamp your vision of the opportunity based on newly emergent possibilities. This is the point where you want to begin enrolling others if you haven’t already, either because they are centrally connected to your vision or because you can benefit from their perspective and experience.
The sixth movement: If your vision remains viable begin to fully realize the opportunity through your actions and the actions of others. Be guided by the impact of your actions and by the ongoing response from others. This requires an openness to new learning, a willingness to change and be changed, a willingness to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes, a willingness to be disappointed, a willingness even to be criticized or misunderstood, at least initially.
This process can be applied at any scale, to situations ranging from the intrapersonal to the largest community. Applying this process at FUUSN can help to remind us of the gift of love, of why we are part of this community, of what being part of this community means for us. It can help us and the community to realize our full potential, both now and in the future. It can provide us the opportunity to continue to build a present and future community fully worth our investment of time, energy, and resources. Most importantly, it can help us to stay resilient and adaptively navigate the coming months, however difficult and challenging they may prove to be.
-Chris Krebs, Board of Trustees