The Challenge Ahead

“Weeping may endure for the night,
but joy cometh in the morning”

I think it happened during President Biden’s Inauguration.  It was a combination of factors; a nation’s capital, which only two weeks earlier had been ransacked and ravaged by a mob, now gleaming brilliantly on a cold, sunlit Washington DC morning; an inauguration speech that honestly addressed the issues that threaten and divide us while also reminding us of our collective responsibility to repair our nation; and the words of 22 year-old poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, “We lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.  We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.”  For the first time in a long while, I felt a glimmer of hope.  It was fueled later on Wednesday evening when President Biden, speaking from the Lincoln Memorial reminded us, “America’s story depends not on some of us, but on all of us, we the people, that’s the task before us, the only way we’ll get through the darkness around us.”  I had a good walk Wednesday evening, and in the stillness, I felt hope.

Two things helped my hope blossom a bit more Thursday.  First, I heard that the COVID vaccine should be readily available in my area as early as next week for those who have health complications and are over the age of 65.  Earlier reports had indicated that it might be late February to early March before my “Phase” would be vaccinated.  Secondly, I attended a Zoom session that outlined the development strategies being pursued at a city and county level as the city of Reading and Berks County as a whole pursue a path for success.  The presentations and comments made by all stakeholders made it very evident that this is indeed a collaborative effort.   I had another good walk Thursday evening, and in the stillness, I felt not only hope, but I actually discovered myself smiling as I thought about the day.  Good things come in threes, and so it would be on Friday!

The day dawned brisk and cold.  Following an early morning Zoom meeting, I took a walk (this time with a Rucksack on my back) and was invigorated by the clean fresh air.  I finished the exercise feeling refreshed with a “bring it on” attitude.  I grabbed some coffee and opened the morning emails.  While going through them I came upon a HBR postThis Two-Minute Morning Practice Will Make Your Day Better, written by best-selling author and blogger Neil Pasricha, and therein I found the threesome that reinforced and refined a practice I have been pursuing over the past several months; “I will let go of…”, “I am grateful for….”, I will focus on….”  Three simple phrases, when combined, have the incredible power to help us shape our day, our relationships, and our outcomes.  They can also serve to help each of us do our part in re-shaping the future of this Nation.

The challenge facing each of us over the next few weeks and months will be our role in fostering unity.  We have a simple choice; will we be a participant in or observer of the process?  Observers tend to watch the news, engage in discussion/commiseration with like-minded individuals, and blame others (most often politicians) for the state of affairs.  Participants on the other hand recognize that their personal words, actions, and behaviors carry weight, and while they may not be the subject of the evening news, they do have impact and can serve to divide or unify.  So how can these three phrases help us?

We begin by letting go; of the negative thoughts, the anger, and the divisiveness that have served to drive a wedge between those that on so many other occasions ( 9-11; Hurricane Sandy, The California Fires) came together as one.  We then “prime our brain for positivity” by considering all for which we should truly be grateful (a vaccine, family, friends, waking-up), and let that be what leads us into the day.  Finally we ask ourselves, what is one thing I can focus on today that will contribute to bringing people together.?  Maybe it’s a kind word to someone having a bad day, perhaps it’s showing empathy, or showing respect for a differing view.

I will let go of…

I am grateful for…

I will focus on…

The challenges facing each of us individually and collectively are significant, but they can be embraced, and in doing so, hope will give way to joy!

Embrace the Challenge