We regret to announce the opportunity for connection is now postponed, suspended indefinitely or cancelled……
Everywhere I look, gatherings, events, conferences and programs are either not happening in 2020 or are threatened due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Feeling somewhat despondent that this situation leaves all of us more isolated and alone in our existence, I turned to an old and inspirational friend in James Hillman’s The Force of Character. He never fails to remind me of the stuff we are made of; the best of our human nature.
Hillman proposes that there are qualities in us that last from early childhood through longevity, and these qualities can sustain us and help us cope with the unknowns that we face in all phases of life.
Pour on; I will endure. (Shakespeare, King Lear).
We cannot lose sight of these forces in our character, our strengths, especially in these days. They give us the advantage to endure and survive through troubling phases and tragic episodes throughout life. These qualities have been tested and continue to evolve over our lifetime. Think of a favorite pair of wool socks. They get a hole and we mend the hole. They fray in another area and we repair them again. Over time, with all the repairs and fortifications, they become a stronger and more resilient version of themselves. It is the same with our character. What are the forces of character within you: Pragmatism? Optimism? Compassion? Look inward and remind yourself of your essential nature, wisdom and strengths. Remember how your character has sustained others in times of confusion and trouble. Return to these qualities as if you are putting on those beloved wool socks, full of repairs, stronger and resilient because of them. These are our tools to bring our best selves and capacities out as we weather a storm. Over a lifetime, these forces in our character only become more accessible and robust as we repeatedly draw on them.
Taking things to the next level – how can all of us be in higher service to each other? When we are asked to withdraw from others (for practical reasons), we are challenged to see what is possible to maintain connection, a basic human need, as we refrain from the very activities and settings that support human connection. Dig deep, draw on the best of yourself and pass it on. Smile. Use your face, use your body language and use your force of character to reach out and touch someone and stay connected. Make a phone call or write a little note to those at risk of feeling isolated. Let people know you know they are out there. Keep a sense of humor and perspective that this too shall pass. Right now, reach inside yourself and outside yourself to connect with your character and then spread that around. See what happens!
I’ll leave you with a “thought gift” from Marianne Williamson, “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”