Finding Our Way Forward - May 11, 2021

At some point, in order to feel a sense of mastery and control, we have to shift our focus to learning to live in new surroundings.

Posted
May 14, 2021
Graphic of gears turning and hand holding tools to tune up

Finding Our Way Forward - May 11, 2021

At some point, in order to feel a sense of mastery and control, we have to shift our focus to learning to live in new surroundings.

Posted
May 14, 2021

JFS Friends,

As I listen to colleagues, friends and relatives talk about their experiences over the last month or so I commonly hear people describe feeling lost. It seems that after we finally became accustomed to being at home, working hard to stay safe, practice social distancing and take care of each other and the now the geography of the world we live in is shifting again as we navigate our re-entry into work, social situations, travel, etc. At times it can feel like we woke up in a new city or country and are having to learn our way around.

Albert Einstein said:

“You can't use an old map to explore a new world.”

As disorienting as this feeling is, understanding what is happening can help us cope and adapt more easily. At some point, in order to feel a sense of mastery and control, we have to shift our focus to learning to live in new surroundings – the way we approach familiar activities may be changed from the way they were pre-COVID and changed again from what we became used to over the last year.

Writer, Max McKeown puts it this way:

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

Just as it can be exciting to explore new places on vacation, moving into a new normal can be seen as an opportunity to let go of old habits and to embrace new ways of working, relating to one another and to take a moment to evaluate our priorities. Justas learning a new language, sport or skill takes time and practice – our learning about how to manage in this new environment will take time and practice.

I had a Hebrew language teacher in high school, Mr. Finkelstein, that used to say that you need to use a new word three times before you can begin to master it. He observed that the first time we use a new word  we often feel very self-conscious and it can feel like the whole world is watching and listening as the sounds stumble out of our mouth. The second time we use the word we start to feel more confident and it flows more easily. By the third time, we own it and it has become a part of us so that it feels natural. Our experience during this re-entry phase maybe similar – the first time we do something it may feel strange and unusual and perhaps create anxiety, the next time it will feel a bit more comfortable and by the third time we will begin to own the skill and it will start to feel more natural.

Cantor Debbie Friedman (z”l) composed a beautiful song based on the verses in Genesis 12:1-2 that speaks to the theme of moving forward to new beginnings. The song is called L’chi Lach (Go Forth):

       L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you

       Leich l'cha, to a place you do not know

       L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you

       And you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing  l'chi lach

(If you would like to listen to the song, you can find it here.)

We are all on this journey together, and even though we are not yet sure what the future will hold or exactly what it will be like when we arrive, we can still be a blessing to one another along the way.

Take care of yourself and each other,

Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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