The Unbearable Lightness of the Other Shoe Dropping
Just as the music is the space between the notes, so is the impending state of the world as the pandemic winds down. I think of this time as being the “Unbearable Lightness of the Other Shoe Dropping.” Right now we are stuck in between, where the past year has changed us all at the core level and the future is cloudy with a chance to go either way. This will all depend on what we learn about ourselves, how we internalize what has occurred and is still in the process, and the beliefs we have around our ability to move forward fearlessly into our future. It’s an unbearable lightness as to how we can proceed as individuals while also remaining immersed in the situations unfolding and revealed around the world.
What I Think…
The pandemic did not seem real to me when it was first proclaimed by the U.S. government in March of 2020. It felt futuristic to me in ways that I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around. Were we living in the future, or would this, too pass and allow us to get back to normal, whatever that was going to mean?
We have all gone through a life experience over the past 15 months that we could not have predicted, did not want, and were not sure how to deal with personally or professionally. The fact that we have made it through this far is a miracle unto itself. At the end of January, 2020 I accompanied my fellow Rotarians on a train ride into the Los Angeles Chinatown. None of us realized at that time that the world had already begun to shift slightly off its axis, albeit in a manner that could have been overlooked had not people begun to get sick and die from what was being spread through the air we breathe. Airborne viruses are scary because we are fearing what we cannot see or smell or taste or touch.
The cacophony emerging from this situation makes the sound of the other shoe dropping appear ever so much more silent. Children were yanked out of school, seated in front of a computer screen, and told that it was still like going to school in person. It isn’t; not even close. Companies sent workers home. Restaurants and movie theatres closed. And when my local markets had no meat or produce or bathroom tissue I panicked. My search for food led me to buying cases of green beans and canned chicken, twenty-five pound sacks of sugar and dried beans and rice, and cartons of reconstituted milk. None of these items are my favorite, telling me that I was in a place of desperation and survival mode at that time.
The unmistakable sound of the other shoe dropping hurt my ears, watered my eyes, and tugged at my psyche. Would I get it and end up hospitalized and on a ventilator until I died? Worse, would this happen to someone I knew and loved?
What I Believe…
I believe that humans are resilient and capable, up to a point. A positive mindset and mental toughness is something I have worked on since 2005. That was the year I made the decision to leave my teaching job and real estate business in favor of online entrepreneurship. I thought the day would come when I could leave my study of the human condition behind, but years ago I realized it would be a lifetime of study, practice, and course correction. My journey continues to unfold in magical and mystical ways, leading me at once down a well-trodden path lined with delicate flowers and ending at the beach and also into the quiet woods near my house that offer a look into what it truly important in the world of fauna and flora.
We have just begun to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people feeling overwhelmed and less hopeful. I’ve worked with dozens of them since the National Emergency was declared in the States and throughout most of the free world. A few are working diligently to make a name for themselves. Others ask questions and take direction well. Then there are those who feel entitled to have a lucrative online business right now.
What About Our Individualism?
In some societies, individualism is highly valued. This is the case in the United States. During the pandemic we have found it necessary to think of the needs of others to a higher degree than usual.
I was reading an article by Ed Yong called The Fundamental Question of the Pandemic is Shifting where he states…
Individualism can be costly in a pandemic. It represents one end of a cultural spectrum with collectivism at the other—independence versus interdependence, “me first” versus “we first.” These qualities can be measured by surveying attitudes in a particular community, or by assessing factors such as the proportion of people who live, work, or commute alone. Two studies found that more strongly individualistic countries tended to rack up more COVID-19 cases and deaths. A third suggested that more individualistic people (from the U.S., U.K, and other nations) were less likely to practice social distancing. A fourth showed that mask wearing was more common in more collectivist countries, U.S. states, and U.S. counties—a trend that held after accounting for factors including political affiliation, wealth, and the pandemic’s severity. These correlative studies all have limitations, but across them, a consistent pattern emerges—one supported by a closer look at the U.S. response.
The incredible, sinking self-esteem of people of all ages will become more evident now. When your job and position are downsized or eliminated, your friends and family no longer enjoy activities and pastimes that used to make them smile, and you find yourself pondering the future with a blank stare into the refrigerator you’re summoning the concept of the other shoe dropping. I’d love to tell you to “Stop it!” but it isn’t quite that simple.
The “Other Shoe Dropping” Belief Can Ruin Your Health, Wealth, and Prosperity
If you are feeling that the other shoe dropping is inevitable for you personally, be willing to endure the consequences of such thinking. I know of what I’m writing here… In 1992 I went through Hurricane Andrew in Miami. Leading up to that fateful night I made all the necessary preparations to secure my home and gather my most important papers and belongings. My little dog, Sasha was by my side at all times.
We survived the storm. The physical damage to the real and personal property was devastating and very little could be saved. Things I had previously taken for granted, like running water, plumbing, and infrastructure in my neighborhood disappeared immediately. Even the woodpecker who had annoyed me for months with his early morning hammering in the tree outside my window, perished during the night. But I had no idea what was to show up in my life in a few short weeks.
Don’t Be Defined By Your Experiences
Within a month of Hurricane Andrew I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. All of a sudden I was thrust into a world so foreign to me, so invasive to my body, and so sad on many levels I became consumed with thoughts of death, and worse.
We cannot allow anyone or any thing in our life to define us in a way that is not positive and joyous. Instead, we must look to the future and be forever hopeful that we are taking the steps each day that will lead us closer to our goals and dreams. I work with people every day who have become stuck in a loop that does not serve them. Even a family member is going through this right now.
After more than twenty years in banking and financial consulting, his company is downsizing and will be demoting him to a position that will pay about 25% less than he has been earning. He has defined himself by his job all this time, as many people do. I’ve encouraged him to return to school to study and prepare for a career in another field. But he believes that at age 50 he is too old to pivot. My goal is to help him find the joy in his life that will allow him to transition to this next phase of his journey. Yes, the pandemic brought this situation about in his life. And it will also be responsible for the new job, career, and life experiences that are manifesting behind the scenes on his behalf.
Learn Lessons From Our Youth
Young people once again will save the day for humanity! I was reading an article titled A Year Full of Emotions. What Kids Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic, and in it authors Jeffrey Kluger and Allison Singer state that…
Too many young generations have been shaped by the global crises they faced—Depression-era poverty, Cold War nuclear fears. Add to them the COVID generation. The virus itself may typically go easier on kids than it does adults, but the mind of a child is another thing. It’s dependent on certainty, safety, the comfort of routine. Take all of that away—shutter schools, keep grandparents at a distance, cancel summer camps—and kids suffer.
Read about kids of all ages and how they are preparing for this “other shoe dropping” syndrome that is creeping into our lives. We can follow their examples and be uplifted, I believe.
As an entrepreneur, you become a risk taker and a problem solver. That’s why I am now writing about and learning more in the area of entropy. The concept that chaos and randomness are a normal part of our daily lives was a new one to me. Now I understand that the secret to success and happiness and prosperity is to embrace the disorder and work it out for ourselves in a way that will make sense and move us closer to our goals and dreams.
During the past few months, people I know and those I work with in my mentoring and other programs have come to me in a state of overwhelm, confusion, and discomfort. I believe the pandemic is just beginning to hit us, in terms with how we are living our day to day life.
We made it through the food and supplies shortage, the fear of not knowing exactly what to do each day to keep ourselves and our family members safe, and how to maneuver when it came to running a business. As a result, we have been empowered in a way that could not have been planned and can never be replicated.
Speak your fears out loud, first to yourself and then to a trusted friend or family member. They will immediately seem less scary when you do this, and this is the beginning of alleviating any pain that has been caused by the situations you are encountering.
My business grew exponentially in the past year, as it did during the 2008 recession. It was easier this time because I had been working online for many more years than I had back then. People who had made small efforts to start an online business in the past came forward to stake their virtual claim. Most will fail in their endeavors for a variety of reasons. But for those who survive and thrive, the sky is not the limit to how far they will grow. Will you be among those who use this experience as a way to catapult your life into a new dimension?
Now the hardest part begins; we must find a way to move into the next phase of what the world now looks like and how everything operates. What is the same? What has changed? What can we do to make sure our lives move forward in the direction that makes sense for us – our needs, wants, goals, choices, and more? These are the steps I’m suggesting you take as you navigate the turbulent waters of change. You’re going to pivot, even if you’ve not used that word before.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. My goal and intention is always to serve you in the way that will make a difference in your life.
I’m Connie Ragen Green, fetching dropped shoes from the abyss and returning them to people ready to step into their power.
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