“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Vivian Greene
The expression “May you live in interesting times” reportedly originated in China. It is widely regarded as a curse because “interesting times” brim with chaos, instability, and irregular events. The year 2020 had all of the hallmarks of “Interesting times” filled with copious shares of drama, stress, controversy, and economic and societal instability. From a writer’s perspective, I viewed 2020 as a fascinating year. Boring times don’t generate much fodder for creating great stories. Interesting times stir the pot. Chaos flips the script, forcing us to adapt in interesting ways.
For those who are struggling, there is a treasure trove of collective wisdom to draw upon during times of turmoil, setbacks, and uncertainly. Below, are quotations that I feel are particularly relevant right now.
Get Fierce, Rebuild, and Move On
“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” ― Mizuta Masahide (17th century Japanese poet and samurai).
I like this quote because I believe that adverse situations are rarely entirely negative. Setbacks often provide an opportunity to view a familiar setting, personal relationship, or current lifestyle, with fresh eyes. The coronavirus pandemic forced companies to think of out-of-the-box solutions, such as allowing employees to work remotely. Viewed through the lens of a raging pandemic, companies that never would have considered remote work situations bravely forged ahead to set up telecommuting systems. Some employees are opting not to return to the office—a scenario they never would have envisioned, if not for the pandemic.
“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” – Lee Iacocca
One positive aspect of the pandemic is the discovery that cutting down on commuting time provides more time to pursue personal interests or hobbies such as learning to play a musical instrument. In response to a dramatic rise in new guitar players seeking lessons during lockdowns, Fender offered beginners free guitar lessons right up until the end of 2020.
Hard times can also serve as a catalyst for launching a new business. During the Great Depression, many new companies were launched. The birth of Publix Supermarket occurred after a store manager named George W. Jenkins quit his job to launch his own grocery store. That sole grocery store eventually expanded into a chain of Publix supermarkets. Today, Publix is currently one of the 10 largest-volume supermarket chains in the United States. Other notable businesses that launched during the Great Depression are King Kullen Grocery Company and Ocean Spray.
“If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.”—Will Smith
One of the most essential things that is needed during a difficult time is emotional support. That support can come from many places: family, friends, neighbors, a counselor or teacher, religious clergy members, or membership in an organization where one can find support from other supportive members.
During times of struggle, personal relationships are put to the test. Fair-weather-friends will make themselves scarce, while others rush in to help. The positive side about being abandoned by fair-weather-friends is that when the good times roll around again, only your truest “ride or die” friends will be there to share them with you.
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” — Steve Jobs
Due to pandemic lockdowns, many companies and restaurants struggled financially and eventually closed. When one is struggling, it’s helpful to reflect on how successful people, such as the late Steve Jobs, handled massive setbacks. Can you imagine being forced out of a company you co-founded? That’s what happened to Jobs. After being forced out of Apple, Jobs launched NeXT, a computer company that was eventually sold off after experiencing anemic sales. One of his biggest failures was the unpopular Apple III computer, viewed by consumers as far too expensive and problematic.
How did Jobs keep moving ahead after experiencing disappointing setbacks? Steve Jobs on Failure, features reflections on how Jobs dealt with adversity.
The COVID storm we are in right now will pass. What are your plans for the post-pandemic recovery period?