Remember back at the start of lockdown in 2020, when many symphony orchestras and arts organizations announced they would simply delay their entire seasons for a year? At the time, that actually seemed pretty reasonable. With everything already planned in great detail, why not just slip straight back into it, a year later, when the world wakes up again and gets back to normal?
That's not exactly what happened. But for me, it certainly makes for an interesting metaphor for the larger situation we face now. We had all these goals, we still do. But we can't just slip back onto the old track.
What happened with our arts organizations? Well, things started coming together again, but in a very piecemeal fashion and with some pretty major restrictions at first. Concerts went online. In-person concerts had to start with smaller ensembles and audiences, with repertoire that would accommodate that. When it was possible to reschedule a previously planned program, often it still had to be changed -- a different soloist, or a different venue.
But let's face the facts: the old season never came back, and it isn't coming back. The plans went out the window and blew away. Likewise, with nearly everything else.
Every now and then, it still gets to me - all of those plans. Not just for symphony seasons - broken plans everywhere. Paths shut down. This pandemic took lives. It shut down businesses, cut off career paths. It kept children away from school, young adults away from college. It isolated us. The losses are real, far-reaching and hard to fathom.
So with things seemingly getting back to something that feels closer to "normal," what are our expectations for the future? How do we make up for lost time, for lost opportunities, for goals not accomplished? Are we still holding onto the idea of getting back on that path we'd planned before? Do we expect to put our children "back on track"?
First, it's important to stop shaking our fists at the road not taken - or rather, the road that vanished before we could take it. And if you are a parent, it is VERY important to stop shaking your fist at the road your child could not take. Dwelling on feelings of blame, anger, regret, or frustration (a.k.a. "b-a-r-f") will only cloud your vision and inhibit your ability to see the opportunities that are in front of you now.
See those opportunities, and take advantage of them. Allow yourself to move on, and model that kind of resiliency for your children (or students), even if it feels a little wobbly in yourself. They need to know that it is okay to let go and move on.
And what about the deficiencies left by the pandemic? The child who "fell behind"? I just have to ask, "behind" what? The very phrase "fell behind" sounds an awful lot like judgment. We need to re-cast that idea, with some mind to emboldening children to move forward without feeling like they are a lost cause before they get a chance to try.
Yes, if a child needs help learning to read, learning algebra, learning to perform, learning to interact with peers, then seek ways to provide that help through tutoring, practice, engagement. But let's do it with minimal judgment.
Meet them where they are, and move on from there with patience and kindness - maybe even enthusiasm. Likewise, with yourself.Tweet
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