Is COVID-19 the universe’s way of saying you weren’t quite ready yet? It sure seems that way sometimes. For example, in my family, my brother and I pushed back the fishing trip we planned for my dad’s 75th birthday. But maybe that’s a good thing. My brother and I tend not to see eye to eye, but now, after 8 months of isolation and a new desire to feel connected, maybe we’re finally ready for this trip in a way we weren’t before. And my son, who is a freshman in high school, hopes online learning will give his acne time to clear up before he really has to meet people at his new school. Of course these are silly examples, but even silly silver linings can be something to hold onto when the world seems to be spinning out of control.
Take the Olympics. Two athletes from the rock climbing gym where my kids practice qualified for Tokyo 2020 and it was heartbreaking for our community to see the Games pushed back. But these athletes are only 16 and 19 years old. This extra year gives them the opportunity to be stronger than they would have been this past summer.
Or think about the SXSW festival. In Spring 2020, everyone here at the Digging Deep Project was overjoyed to earn a panel at the festival…only to watch it cancelled as COVID took hold. At the time, it seemed like such a missed opportunity: It was supposed to be the big unveiling of our game, Shadow’s Edge, for a wide audience. We hoped the festival would help us put the free game in the hands of young people who need tools to support their emotional health.
We hoped to help people.
But looking back, I’m not sure we were ready. We had only a handful of players and even people on our team didn’t quite know how to talk about Shadow’s Edge. Now we have another chance. (Or, with your help we can EARN another chance. It only takes 20 seconds to vote for our panels, “Digital Dissonance — Empathy in an Online World” and “Impact Teen Emotional Health, Affect the World“!)
Of course, there are hundreds of examples big and small of events and activities that we will never get back. But there are also examples — small ones like those above and also big, societal ones — in which being forced to postpone something will eventually offer a much better second chance.
It’s hard to see silver linings when COVID cases are spiking and hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise. But if you don’t look for the bright side when things seem so dark, what do you have left? I’m holding on to the idea that some things get better with age. I hope you’ll join me. Actually, I hope you’ll help me. What else did we postpone or cancel in 2020 that will be even better once the pandemic ends?
Garth Sundem is a parent, husband, and author of books including “Real Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change”.