Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Joe Darago of The Hope Effect.
As I remember it, my college buddy had spent a few weeks laboring over his paper. He wouldn’t even go out with us on our routine fast food runs. Instead, he stayed in the dorm banging away on his computer.
After hours and hours of work, he was making progress, but when I asked him how it was going, he expressed he wasn’t happy with how it was turning out.
There was a lot of time and effort, but little satisfaction. In the beginning, he was confident the direction he chose to go with his paper would easily yield him a good grade. But now, with 75% of it done, he wasn’t so sure.
Unfortunately, he was in too deep. The day before the assignment was due, it was too late to change course.
Then it happened. His computer mouse froze, and he panicked as he realized he forgot to back up his work. After hitting Control-Alt-Delete, it was all gone! Every word of it.
After he got over the initial shock, he rolled up his sleeves and faced his new reality. His adrenaline raged, but his mind began to calm.
And he had a crazy idea.
“What if,” he thought, “I changed direction and took a different angle?”
At first, he tried to talk himself out of it. He had put so much time and energy into his old idea. But after taking one last look at the clock, he put on a pot of coffee and got to work, seeing his new direction through.
The end result certainly wasn’t perfect, but he was ultimately happy with the paper in the end.
As we continue through this pandemic, I have a similar thought running through my head. For many of us, this crisis has forced us to change direction. Many of my friends have lost jobs, businesses, investments, and loved ones. Familiar routines are gone, and the security many people felt before was gone in an instant.
While there is a great deal of tragedy in the pandemic—and I don’t want to be careless about the reality and loss many people are experiencing—there is another reality that is beginning to emerge from the pandemic. Perhaps this crisis presents an unexpected opportunity.
Is it possible to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of COVID-19?
We are now more than a month into our own Control-Alt-Delete experience of sheltering at home. Adrenaline might still be high from the sudden change, but maybe our minds are calm enough to evaluate and reconsider.
Could we harness this unexpected and unwanted crisis and tame it for a better future for us and our families? One thing is for sure, things will never be the same. The only real question is, how will they be different for you?
As Dave Hollis wrote, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” (click to tweet)
As I write this, the President has just announced operation “Open Up America Again.” And when things begin to ease back into a new normal, my hope is I will take the opportunity this crisis afforded me to keep focused on two essential truths:
1. Life Really Is More.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, this is not news to you. Joshua Becker has been shouting it from the rooftops for years, and this virus has chimed in with a similar chorus.
Life is more than earning a ton of money, more than pursuing vain success, and so much more than amassing material possessions.
For some of us, what we have been chasing has been stripped away in an instant—and now we are left with a longing for what is truly important. Others of us have now been forced to hit the pause button long enough to let the dust settle in our lives and see what a mess we’re making.
For me, it’s more clear than ever that life is found in love for others, in kindness and generosity, in relationships with family and friends, and in the pursuit of my faith.
I have to find a way to remove what is distracting me from these essential things and continue to hear this call clearly even when things return “back to normal.” Life is so much more.
2. Life Is To Be Lived—Right Now. No More Waiting.
My family has been in transition for the better part of a year. My oldest got married, and another kid is graduating college this month and has already rented an apartment. After 25 years of being a pastor, I embraced a new calling last year as the Executive Director of The Hope Effect. And to top it off, we sold our house and moved to another.
Life was moving at a blistering pace when the virus hit and slowed things down in a hurry. The good thing is—it has been driving home the importance of living now and not just waiting to live later.
Later might never come. Or perhaps even worse, it might come and I wasted years getting there. It’s too easy to just let life happen to us.
The virus has helped me to be more grateful for what I have, for the important work I get to do, for the health I have to do it, and for the resources I have to live simply with the ones I love around me.
My new normal cannot be filled with wasted effort or trivial pursuits. Regardless of how much time and energy I spent building my old life, if a better one presents itself, I must choose it.
However many more days, weeks, or years I am afforded, I want them to be lived on purpose with purpose.
How about you?
Joe Darago is the Executive Director of The Hope Effect, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Joshua Becker, funded significantly by the Becoming Minimalist community, that is helping to change how the world cares for orphans.