As I type this, I’m home in my workspace, having faced TWO program cancellations this week, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This phenomenon has changed the world, and in these unprecedented times, it’s easy to feel like we are all drifting at sea, trying to navigate uncharted waters. None the less, we can find opportunity in every challenge.
Let me explain. Recently, I was talking with my 17-year-old ‘exchange son’ from Ghana (who is here as an exchange student for one academic year) about 9/11. When he said that he had heard about it in a HISTORY CLASS, it made me stop and think. I can remember exactly where I was when the news came. I had been speaking at a school in Mount Vernon, NY, and it doesn’t seem that long ago. But to him, it’s HISTORY. Just yesterday we were discussing what’s happening globally at this time. “Kofi, you are experiencing HISTORY right now. Decades from now you will tell your children and grandchildren about the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, and they will probably start tapping away at whatever 21st-century device is most efficient in 2050, just to read up on it. To THEM it will be HISTORY, and you are experiencing that history RIGHT NOW!”
As difficult, as uncomfortable, and as scary as these times are right now, we are ALL experiencing a slice of history. All of us, at this moment, are dealing with situations and circumstances that we haven’t faced before. We are creating moments and memories, and we are writing new chapters in our life stories every day. These new experiences are the stories that we will tell for years to come. The emotions that we share with friends, neighbors, loved ones and strangers hold lessons that we will pass on to our children and grandchildren when they ask about the historic COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. I’m confident that Kofi will remember joining us as we helped a local church to prepare hot take-away meals for the less fortunate.
I encourage you to keep track of your experiences, but not only that. Actively seek out the most humorous, uplifting and inspiring stories that arise during this season of uncertainty and fear. We hear daily about the increasing extremity of the measures being taken by leaders globally, and there is enough real negativity to go around. Amidst the panic in some areas over the dearth of paper products (I couldn’t get toilet paper at Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart, and I heard about Sam’s Club lines snaking around the block at some locations) it was nice to walk into a local Kroger and see an ample supply available. Customers were allowed up to three packages, and there was NO MAD RUSH. As I made my way to the checkout counter, an older woman asked where she could find that precious commodity. “I need to get some for my dad. He can’t get out.” I led her to the end of the beverage aisle…that’s where they were stocked…gathered 3 packages and placed them in her cart. She was very appreciative of my help and I was happy to give it. Most uplifting for me is my experience with the way that folks in my area have been going about their busy lives. This may SEEM like a small thing, but it’s a small thing that makes me smile despite the fear, concern, and stress that surrounds me.
We NEED YOUR STORIES. Don’t just file them away to be hauled out and dusted off to awe and amaze future listeners. Share these stories NOW. We need to feel encouraged. We need stories to uplift us. We need to hear about the unsung heroes who help the elderly and infirm. We need positivity now more than ever. Most of all we need HOPE. Hope that gives us the confidence that we will get through this.
As I always say, “Your story doesn’t have to be sensational; it just has to be sincere.” It could be about a small blessing that you received, or a small blessing that you became; a small act of kindness or a transformational experience. The important thing is that it is YOUR story, and it needs to be shared. Tell your story; YELL YOUR STORY, because YOUR STORY connects with OUR STORY, and it’s a part of HISTORY!