Have you ever sat down in a chair that swivels, and were immediately flung around, arms and legs flailing like a rag doll in motion? You realize you may feel a bit nauseous, like you’re riding the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups at Disney and seeing double??
In the aberration of a time that we are currently swiveling in, I have come to terms with the fact that I must learn to pivot.
Pivot (noun): the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates. To rotate, wheel, revolve, spin, or twirl.
The word brings to mind an episode from the series, “Friends,” where Ross & Rachel attempt to bring a couch up umpteen flights of stairs. Ross is clearly in control and Rachel is unable to acquiesce to his every demand, mostly because she cannot see where she’s going. They try to shift to the left, then right, as the stairs take a 90 degree turn every ten steps. I can hear Ross yelling, “PIVOT! PIVOT!” as he is wedged between the sitting device and the wall, face mashed to one of the side arms, and Rachel is blindly shoving this unwieldy piece of furniture forward with all of her might.
That perfectly describes the impending school year and everything else that lies beyond. The teachers and students are R, C & R, the couch is curriculum/distance learning, and the education agencies/state legislature are the ones telling us to rotate, twist, and turn ourselves in new and challenging ways, so that we can teach the standards to a student population who isn’t sure school is even safe enough to attend and who may or may not want to learn from a face on a monitor instead of at the front of a room.
I’ve done my fair share of freak out festivals throughout the summer days and into this week, and tried to look at this from all angles, but this kaleidoscope we are in is just leaving me dizzy.
Here’s the set of truths I have to recognize if I want to get better.
1–It doesn’t help the situation to endlessly complain about the vertigo we have experienced from the swiveling chair of 2020 and its sudden revolving door of decisions and edits.
Nobody likes constant complainers, because they don’t seem to want anything but their own way. It’s okay to be upset, but do something about it. We benefit more by helping one another.
2–It doesn’t bring us closer together as a community of learned people to put all of our energy into pointing out the flaws in the plan. The reason they’re flawed is because each day seems to bring on new hurdles to jump.
Everybody could use someone in the team who is full of new ideas on how to adapt. Try to find a new way to see through the fog of struggle. Remember your “why”—mine are my family, friends, and students.
3–It doesn’t fix the gray areas of this pandemic planning to simply answer with a pat response that “it will be ok…it’ll go away soon,” when we aren’t sure that it will.
A bandaid is a temporary fix on a situation that may require “surgery” to see improvements in operations. Of course things won’t be done like they have before—we are still in a crisis, even if the numbers may be lowering.
Instead, we must reprogram ourselves be able to pivot.
There’s something this virus has taught me, and, I believe, all of us:
Accept the unexpected.
Yep. I said “accept.” You were assuming I meant “expect,” because that is the phrase we know. Here’s where we rotate our thinking—we have to look at it with the eyes of acceptance. Not that we will just lay down and accept our collective fate, but that we may not always have the answers, and that we will often make mistakes. Isn’t that how we learn and improve, though?? There is a great opportunity here to make changes that will (hopefully) impact the down-spirals occurring as a result of Corona.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
The realist adjusts the sails.-William Arthur Ward-
For my readers in the room, I grew up reading Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and found them thrilling because there were so many unknowns—non-linear structures that allowed you to swerve and twist through the details at your own will. You know, “if you want to climb the mountain, turn to page 37.” Then, you get to 37, and it offers you another door or obstacle to overcome. If you get to the end and flip the book back, your story can change again, at will.
Writers call it a plot twist. A pivot in the storyline.
Pandemic times are much like that. You see the figures, watch the news, hear the plans for businesses and schools, then two days later, it changes. You try to adapt, rework your plan, and it may or may not work. This virus doesn’t discriminate in whose life it inconveniences or permanently alters. However, it is us that have the power to alter how we cope.
“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”-Joseph Campbell-
Whether we are carrying the couch up the stairs, or turning to page 38 this time, we must pivot together.
Be willing to change and change again. It is the greatest constant in life.
Accept that it will be difficult, but that it is not permanent.
Show grace to those who have difficulties with plans made on the fly.
Reach out to those who live with a spontaneous life mindset—they have learned how to live life from moment to moment.
Try not to look for ‘later’ yet, when the ‘now’ is what we have in front of us.
Encourage, hope, and love.
And, above all, when it feels like you want nothing more than a flat path, be on the lookout for swerving lanes.