Last summer looked different. For example, swim lessons, swinging at the neighborhood park, frequenting the library, and family vacations marked the calendar days of 2019.
Enter the cancel of 2020. Specifically, the nope, not now, sorry, not safe, and not this year.
We unknowingly entered survival mode.
As a rule follower, I rolled with it. After all, the survival of humanity appeared to pivot on just that– survival. It was a lot of days of “nope, not now, sorry, not safe, not this year.”
But the kids didn’t get it. They kept pressing with new ideas.
“Can we play with the neighbors?” Cancellations, safety, distancing swirled around my mind, and it was an easy no.
“May we have a picnic with the neighbors?” Nope.
“Can we put on a lemonade sale?” Not a chance.
“Can we put on a book sale?” Ok. Fine. Go ahead.
The kids were thoughtful in their book sale endeavor, although it was a safety-precaution-fail to find a face mask on our front porch. As it turned out, the 4-year old neighbor girl blew her nose in it.
But overall, the sale was a huge hit. The entire neighborhood came out to contribute. Consequently, it was a powerful time of connection.
Sale proceeds in hand, the kids decided to put on a neighborhood BBQ and fireworks show. Although safety and distancing again swirled around my mind, I said okay.
And like that, five households somehow appeared in our driveway with food, drinks, and extra fireworks. Through the conversation, I learned that they had all shared concerns about cancellations, safety, and distancing. But they all said, “okay.” And together, we pulled it off well.
“Okay” shifted an entire community.
At the end of the day, there is an end to our days. In truth, we only get so many trips around the sun. For this reason, we must discover a “new” that we can live with because humans aren’t designed to live at a minimal level.
In other words, survival mode is not designed for permanent residence.
The journey toward thriving requires us to (safely) leave survival mode. And thriving means we have to start to discern where we can move forward and say “okay” to life.
For instance, we got to know our neighbors in a deeper, meaningful way because we said, “okay.” Unfortunately, there was a firework incident when a large spark landed in my daughter’s lap and burned a hole in her shirt. Let’s face it- living life and saying “okay” is not without risk.
But saying “okay” is a gateway for connection, relationship, and some “remember the time” moments. Sure, we could have spent the evening watching fireworks on screens. It would have been a more comfortable route.
And yet the more comfortable route would have meant missing out on new memories, new friends, and new life.
Plus, my daughter has the souvenir t-shirt, complete with a burn hole, that will forever trigger a journey down memory lane. “Hey, remember the time…”
I’m not asking us all to throw caution to the wind. We still need to be cautious, we still need to be aware, but I’m learning new ways to connect safely, and understanding that in spite of my fears connection is still possible.
May you find space for an “okay” on this day. And above all, may you discover a life-giving “new” in your journey toward thriving.
About the Author: Jen Macnab is an avid reader, writer, and runner who recently resigned from a full-time career in higher education to pursue balance and simplicity. Jen launched Toward Thriving, LLC to support others on the journey toward best self.