The Systems Thinker - Center for Family Consultation's blog

Memorial Day 2020—Inspiration is all around us

Authored by Leslie Ann Fox, M.A.

Editor’s Note: This blog post is in response to an excerpt from letter written by Richard Pearlman, M.S.W., on May 19, 2020, in which he said,

“Personally, this continues to be a challenging time for me ~ and the cool overcast extremely rainy days have not helped to lift spirits. Between sheltering in place, contending with personal/family matters, conducting needed maintenance on our property (emergency and otherwise), tending to our garden and bees, spending socially distant time with grandchildren, watching the sun rise, Zooming with family and friends, and keeping up with exercise ~ days are full, albeit dream like ~ as one day runs into the next”.

Thank you for your thoughtful message, Richard. It interests me that you described your varied and full days as dream-like. I too find these past few months to be like living in an altered state of consciousness. Being flung so abruptly from our routines governed in the main by our chronic anxiety, to a new state of reality, governed more by acute anxiety, has been shocking…a very real threat to our survival, which has compelled us to make sudden and dramatic changes in our daily routines, and also to our perspectives on just about everything. From setting our daily priorities regarding how we allocate our time and attention to family and close friends, to projects, to vocations or avocations, and perhaps most importantly for meditating on life’s mysteries—to imagining a new future for ourselves, loved ones, our communities and the planet.  We have been robbed of our freedom of movement and face to face engagement with our social networks by an unseen enemy…the stuff of thrillers; however, examination of the facts about the danger we face makes our plight quite real. We are challenged in these times by the age-old conundrum of balancing the needs of the individual and the needs of the wider group, be it family, a workplace, local community, or the global community.

It is most interesting to me that the response we need to take to survive, is not to hurry up and take action, rather it is to slow down and take action…forcing a kind of slow thinking on us, when we usually use fast thinking in a life-threatening situation I am thinking here of Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, in which he describes “two systems that drive the way we think: System 1 is fast, intuitive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical”. Perhaps that is the root of the dream-like state you described. It seems like this very smart virus is playing mind games with us, and it is winning for now. But what about in the long run? Will we look back someday and be thankful for the “time-out” mother nature has given us—time to reflect on our behavior as a species, to think about what we want for future generations and determine what we can do to contribute to making that vision the next new reality for humankind? We are learning some hard lessons right now, but maybe they will make us smarter in the future…I am cautiously optimistic.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe Memorial Day! We have many more heroes to honor and be grateful for this year—so many brave people on the front lines, fighting the coronavirus across the country on our behalf. Inspiration is all around us.

Leslie Fox

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3 Comments on "Memorial Day 2020—Inspiration is all around us"

  • Stephanie Ferrera says

    Leslie,

    Your reflections are much like my own in this time of danger which is also a time of opportunity.
    Slowing down is like putting the brakes on oneself. Getting used to thinking before acting, rather
    than acting before thinking. Looking around to see the “inspiration that is all around us” both in
    the admirable work people are doing, and in the natural world, is so necessary and helpful.

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