What is happening?What will become of us?What will it all be like after all this is over?
These existential questions face us all. And boy are they scary at times.
Too big to answer.
Too much to deal with.
Too many unkowns.
One of the downsides of working from home has been the intensity of it all.
It’s been welcome in terms of boosted productivity and the capacity to get things done as in the world of theatre we re-invent what we do for a distanced and digital age. And we’re not alone, many other businesses and occupations face similar challenges.
Less welcome has been the loss of the decompression time a commute provided. The time to organise thoughts and contextualise emotions. Walking. Feeling the breeze.
A digital space is something I’m perfectly at home with. But I’m very conscious that it strips away those necessary human signals which I have always read avidly, the glance, the gesture, the slight shift in tone, the fleeting shadow or bright spark behind the eyes – the nuance and multi dimensionality of human contact for which a ‘conversation’ is just the reflective surface of the currents beneath.
My work exposes me to emotions, ideas, stories and imaginations. It immerses me in currents which are powerful. I love that. I thrive on it.
Wild humanity, untrammelled by the ‘old’ conventions, is driven by the rapid changes we’re all experiencing. So it can’t be denied. But it needs managing so that the self is not eroded by the current, but strengthened, rounded and burnished; polished to a brighter truth.
Amidst the hurly burly of it all, that is quietly happening.
Personally, it’s happening at a pace unparallelled by past experience – and I’ve lived through and adapted to a lot of changes in my 52 years, many more than most.
I’m not struggling with change. But I am very concerned by tone policing or denial, driven by ‘things must not change’ reflexes.
These reactions fundamentally disturb me.
I get why some people may react that way. I really do.
… I feel that the more courageous step is to accept that it is the changes that are constant and an assumed fixity which is false, faulty.
As traditional office based ways of working dissolve there will be impacts on service businesses – cafes, bars and the like. We can already see retail imploding on the streets while growing in the ether.
Digital ways of working and being are enabling. They are also standardising experiences at a faster rate than before, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are global superpowers dwarfing states and the corporations of the past.
Simultaneously digital is also reflecting the disparate identities and complexities of the human state.
These are fundamental shifts.
State polities have not kept up. Systems of production did not adapt fast enough either. Services are struggling to cope with radical shifts in our living patterns. And all of these shifts are on a global scale. Each and every one of us is being pulled in several directions, at once, all the time.
More than ever we need ‘congress’
We need to get together
We need to understand that our wider interests are best served by unqualified collaboration.
The terms of collaboration must remove existing and structual inequalities, and empower new voices and ways of doing things.
We need the under 30s, the childless or child free, the marginalised, the bright sparks who have been saturated with disapproval but whose ideas and creativity challenge current structures, to have a far stronger voice than they have been allowed hitherto.
Remove the roadblocks.
Privileges need to be pared back, shared. Those with a lot will have to make do with less so that those with nothing can have something.
We need to trust that what will be, will be
Covid-19 lockdowns have hastened changes which might have taken place over a decade, compressing them into the envelope of a pressured 9 months.
We are adapting reactively, but we’re not necessarily assimilating.
To understand and trust that what will be, will be, we need to make time to decompress and reflect.
We mustn’t forget that whilst we are analogue creatures, we’re also more complex and multi faceted than the digital packets which govern and compartmentalise our lives.
For these dimensions to reconcile we need to give ourselves time to think, to talk and to share, and to reflect.
In adopting ‘being kind’ as our mantra, we shouldn’t forget to be kind to ourselves too. Because that’s where a deeper wellspring of kindness will bubble up from.
So, take a distanced walk with a friend. Have a breather. Chat over the garden fence or on the pavements. Just do it. Safely. Because it will change your life.
What will be will be. Just don’t sing that song 🙂