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The Great Pause

by Dan Wulff and Agnieszka Wolska


COVID-19 has given us pause—an unexpected interruption to the flow of our lives. This was welcomed by some, cursed by others. As we begin the uncertain process of “returning” to some of the things we did before, what will guide us? Most likely, we will be different from before. But in what ways?

In our fast-paced world where we try to maximize everything (time, money, opportunities), this interruption allows time for reflecting on where we have been in our lives and where we might go next.

Our previous lives (prior to COVID-19) were already filled with activities and schedules. Families with school-aged children whose lives revolved around preschools/schools, playgrounds, swimming pools, sports, music lessons, video games, overnights, hanging around with friends, and going to the mall were suddenly faced with doing everything at home. Every moment of every day turned into Family Time. From busy to busy; only difference was that home was the base.

A return to the normal of what we knew will likely not be completely possible (and maybe is not even desirable). We do not know exactly what is coming but it is safe to say that some aspects of what we knew will not return.

We don’t even know for sure that as we start coming out of our homes that it will last. It feels like being in limbo—we do not know exactly what to prepare for as the future rolls out. It is this zone of uncertainty that provides the chance to provisionally design some aspects of our future lives. We have an unusual opportunity to re-vision our lives, as families and as individuals. We have a chance for a re-set.

So, play a little game with yourself.

· What of your pre-COVID life do you want to keep? What of your previous life do you want to leave behind?

· What of your life during COVID times of the past four months would you like to keep?

· What will you miss when you try to go back to what you had?

· If you could go back to exactly what was there before, would you want to?

· What changes in other family members did you notice that you really liked during the ’shut-down’?

· What changes did others notice about you that they liked?

· One year from now, how do you think you will remember this time together with your family?

This time last year, we did not know we were going to get this re-set opportunity. Is there an element of control that has now entered into your life in terms of being able to be more deliberate in going forward? Is there a window of opportunity here?

Given that so much pain and disruption has come about because of COVID’s entry into our lives, it may seem unfair or unreasonable to talk about this moment in our lives as having something positive going for it. Without in any way downplaying those devastating elements, if we can make something useful out of this time, why shouldn’t we? You may not get another opportunity like this again. Or then again, you might.

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