Reflection In The Present Tense

Paul Heagen Uncategorized Leave a Comment

“When I look back at this time, I’m sure I’ll find I learned something…”

I’ve heard that a lot over the last few weeks. We know there is something to be drawn from this time, but what exactly that will be is elusive in the opacity of the moment.

Reflection is a great discipline to have in learning and growth. It invites that glance back over our shoulder to take in things from a distance. This parallax view can often reduce the disproportion of confusion or pain or struggle of that moment and place it in a larger, more settled context. The “takeaway” becomes clearer as the fog of war lifts.

Yet, consider most other learning. We expect to know going in what we want to derive from it, the lesson plan if you will. While some learning is by osmosis or only seen in reflection, much of it is the product of a pre-determined commitment to maximize the experience for some desired outcome.

Why not now? Why wait to see what we have learned in this time of crisis?

What about if we seized this crazy, out-of-control, bewildering situation and mined it for some kind of learning — now, not later?

One thing this coronavirus has done for most of us is strip away the non-essential. The activity with which we normally surround ourselves is seductive in serving as a proxy for a sense of purpose and value and productivity. Whether you are right now full-throttle in keeping up with some new demand or staring into an abyss or somewhere in between, it is still a crisis, and crisis is a terrible thing to waste. What can be learned, or forged, or deepened in a crisis is character — empathy, resilience, patience, stamina, integrity. courage, creativity.

If we can in this moment ask what we want to learn and become through this, we will chart a through-line, a path, where events and challenges are not so much obstacles but opportunities that accrue to the lesson plan we have set for ourselves.

We will be able later to pause down the road and look back over our shoulder and not just see what we learned, but appreciate our intentionality in doing so.

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