Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Just When I Think.....

"Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time. "
"The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn." 
~Alvin Toffler  

Typically, I would choose only one quote to launch a post, but these are not typical times. They are, in fact, the times that Alvin Toffler, the futurist, first described in 1970 in Future Shock, a future time of unprecedented change at an unprecedented acceleration. 

I was privileged to hear Toffler speak at a convention where he described the future of change not only in the United States but globally.   What I remember most vividly is the first question that was asked in the Q and A period following his presentation, and his response.  Question:  "When will this slow down?"  Response:  A smile and then, "I'm smiling because yours is the first question I always get and my reply is the one I always give, not in your lifetime."

I went back to Toffler after reading my personal journal entries from April and May and recognizing how much had changed in the outer world reported in the news and my inner world recorded in my journals in only these past two months.  After I could see how much I felt like a ping pong ball bouncing from player to player to player to player.  After seeing how I could vacillate between the throes of frustration, outrage, and self-doubt one day and the reassurance that my coping skills were more than adequate and then back again, sometimes within one day. Yup, stress and disorientation.

So, I have chosen to reflect on what I am learning, what I may have forgotten that could be helpful, and maybe most important, on evidence that I am learning from this.
  • Just when I think I've recovered a modicum sense of equilibrium, something happens to throw me back into free fall.  I come across conflicting information or distressing national news, I forget or lose or break something, I learn of a friend with a serious health challenge.  Sometimes all within one day.  Change does seem to be happening at warp speed.
  • Data and information are not enough.  I own the responsibility to seek out the appropriate experts and check the veracity of the information.  (Taking the medical advice of a politician is akin to asking my auto mechanic to clean my teeth!)  
  • I need occasional breaks from outside information for my mental and emotional health.  I woke up yesterday to the news and images of protests springing up across the US, to some of the violence that was occurring, to the inflammatory responses being reported from people who could and should offer otherwise.  I could feel the sorrow and outrage bubbling up, so I chose to turn off the TV and clean a closet.
  • Taking care of my mental and emotional health is as important as taking care of my physical health.
  • An occasional escape from the harsh realities we can now see 24/7 in technicolor is respite rather than denial, healthy respite.
  • I'm recognizing sooner the things I find stressful.  Too much negative news at one time.  Generalizations, attack, hatred, denial, although understandable, don't help in the long run.  Maybe at the moment, but not in the long run. Including, and especially, my own even if silently expressed.  Sharing worries and anger, frustrations, vitriol, and fears, although helpful for awhile, indulged too long only seem to exacerbate them.
  • I'm also learning to recognize the signs of disorientation soon enough to reorganize - waking in the middle of the night and being unable to return to sleep, becoming clumsy or unusually forgetful, talking faster, feeling irritable or blue for no apparent reason, leaving simple tasks unfinished.  These are my signs.
  • Three things help me adjust more gracefully to the next change - staying as conscious and present to the immediate moment, paying attention to what is positive and works for me (rather than worrying about what's "right" or what others think I should do) and looking for creative solutions to the problems I can control.  I'm far from mastering any of this.  I wish I were more agile, but I guess I'm a work in progress.
  • It is more helpful to me to challenge my own thinking than the thinking of everyone else.  More satisfying, more possible, and more effective.
  • I am more of an introvert than I ever would have suspected.  But I also need to connect with someone every day, and seeing that person, if only on Zoom or Skype, is a pleasure.  I love my little rescue dog, Rufus.  I find myself talking to him a lot, but beyond wagging his tail and rolling over on his belly to be scratched, he can't answer me.  He can't ask the question that helps me slow down my inner dialogue or evoke some laughter when I most need it.
  • There is something exhilarating about solving my own problems.  You'd think I had conquered Mt. Kilamanjaro whenever I solve a computer issue on my own.
  • Nevertheless, I am still learning when to ask for help.
  • To quote Sheldon Kopp, "The world is not necessarily just.  Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.  You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless."
  • Either/or thinking at best limits possibilities, at worst, it's creating havoc in our public life.  I am striving to remain vigilant when I fall into that trap. 
  • It helps to focus on the possibilities inherent in all this change, as much as the breakdowns and problems that present themselves.  I appreciate my home more.  I relish my time with friends.  Having learned that I can weather the depths of my grief over John's passing, I know I can weather the grief of my current disappointment and disillusion in my country.  Eventually, if not now.  I have a much neater home and I'm even learning to enjoy cooking and playing around with technology.    
  • The little things.  Thank heaven for a bumper crop of roses, a stranger who offers help, a breeze when it's hot and air conditioning (!), the desert sky at dusk, a friend who calls just to check in, a good piece of chocolate or a glass of homemade lemonade, a happy memory, the quote that helps me make sense of what I'm seeing or feeling or thinking, and always, my sweet little Rufus.  The little things that are always available, just waiting to be noticed and appreciated.  The little things that I am noticing and appreciating more than ever.
Well, I can at least take some comfort in knowing I can't be called illiterate!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you this, expressed exactly how I feel . I have been so lucky not to have lost anyone in my family .I have had terrible losses in the past .which in a weird way prepares for future losses which is the only thing we cant get away from . But these times certainly are strange and disconcerting