Noticing what we miss can be an opportunity to discover what we value most of all
Lian Brook-Tyler writes a monthly column, Wild&Happy, for the Bishop's Stortford Independent about finding happiness within by connecting with the world around us...
As we start to feel the tide might be beginning to turn on these strange times, I notice that people are speaking of life returning to normal.
My nine-year-old daughter overheard my son’s teacher talk on a class Zoom call about “...when we return to normality...” and she asked me what ‘normality’ meant. I struggled to answer her because I knew in doing so I would be promising her something that wasn’t mine to promise.
After all, is there really a ‘normal’ to return to? And if so, would we even want to return to it, exactly as it was?
Time moves on, things change, we lose, we gain, every moment provides a new experience and we then make new meaning of it.
Many people I’ve spoken to have noticed that amongst the loss, stress, grief and challenges they’ve also discovered treasure that they want to keep.
I’ve heard stories of people enjoying:
* More time with their family
* A slower pace of life
* Less travel
* Helping others
* More intentional connection
* More time in nature
* Less socialising (or is that just my introverted husband, who has enjoyed the break from my preferred "open house... yes, come over, the more the merrier! Do stay for dinner! Oh, shall we have another one?” lifestyle?)
I also know that many people feel guilty about finding gifts during a time when so many are suffering, but I’ve rarely seen it benefits anyone to deny what they’re discovering about who they are and what they desire.
Personally, I’ve found it challenging to juggle my children being at home alongside my business. I’m doing coaching calls, recording podcasts and running webinars against a backdrop that is in flagrant disregard of the advice to never work with children and animals (my dogs always went to sleep whilst I worked but now they’re constantly distracted by the antics of said children).
One memorable example was me extolling the virtues of my children being at home to a podcast guest and then realising they were having a screaming match in the next room, which set the dogs off barking.
I’ve reached mime artist levels of proficiency at communicating “Sorry!”, “Just keep talking” and “I genuinely have no idea what to do at this point” whilst on mute.
And yet, I have so enjoyed watching my children use this slower time to do things they’re really passionate about: learning magic tricks, playing a keyboard (which had lain separated from its adaptor and gathering dust for the past year), memorising capital cities and writing letters.
I suspect they’ll choose to continue at least some of these interests when we go back to ‘normal’ and I’ve so enjoyed the sound of music filling the house that I’m pondering getting a proper piano (no adaptor to lose).
Another gift of this time is noticing what we’re missing most.
I know some of us are missing:
* Loved ones
* Financial security
* Catching up with colleagues
Noticing what we miss can be an opportunity to discover what we value most of all.
I have very little surviving family left; those I do have are deeply precious to me. My chest aches from the feeling of all those missing hugs.
Being with my circle of my closest friends – endless cups of tea whilst putting the world to rights, sharing our tear-stained, laughter-filled stories, those epic nights out that become the stuff of legend – is another thing I’m missing terribly. Virtual contact, as grateful as I am for it, doesn’t quite cut it.
Zoom calls can’t replace the party and other gatherings that we planned for the friend who’s just turned 40. We’re all feeling the sting of the lost opportunity to celebrate who she is, what she means to us and to create some of those rarer golden threads in the fabric of our friendship.
Photos don’t replace being there for my friend who has just given birth, communicating in the way only soft glances, gentle touch and acts of service can: “You did it, I’m proud of you. I love you and I’m here for you.” And the missing snuggles with her newborn are something that can never be returned.
How about you? What have you learned about yourself?
What new habits, interests or ways of being will you choose to keep?
What are you missing most?
How will knowing this change your life once you can reclaim or somehow recreate those missing things?
And once the world is telling you it’s time to return to normality, what are you willing to prioritise, change and empower so that YOU can choose which parts of this great unravelling will become you?
* Lian Brook-Tyler lives in Farnham with husband Chris and their two children, who attend Windhill21 Primary School in Bishop's Stortford. For 15 years she worked in the corporate world, rising to be head of online at BT, before the life-changing loss of her father, Robert, led her onto a path to become a coach, co-founder of Waking The Wild, which helps people to reclaim their wildness and actualise their deepest gifts, and host of wildly popular podcast The Primal Happiness Show.