Shifting for the Better

“We are a nation not only of dreamers, but also of fixers. We have looked at our land and people, and said, time and time again, “This is not good enough; we can be better.”

― Dan Rather, What Unites Us

Just last week, instead of hearing headlines and muttering, “How much crazier can things get?” I started asking, “What restorative and nourishing things can happen?” as if this was my challenge/request to the universe in order to shift the seas of the shark-jumped script of 2020. 

Meanwhile, undoubtedly it’s been a year of shifting through things and sorting things out. It’s been a time to reimagine the new way forward. Mary Oliver’s oft-quoted line, “What will you do with your one wild precious life?” was all too immanent in my mind and heart, humming loudly within me starting this past spring, and this line quickly became my axis mundi more so than ever as I navigated this year. All choices were made in accordance with the simple rubric of my response to that inquiry posed by Oliver, and what was most important to me. 

So we bought a farm.

Having recently moved near a small town with one stop sign and spotty internet connections, we’ve been introduced to our neighbors in the quiet passersby sort of way that happens out past the city limits. One of our neighbors has a ditch that runs through our property, so I met him clad in hip waders and clutching a five-tine pitchfork once the irrigation water began flowing this summer. I learned that he has been in this area his whole life. I am grateful for the stories, years of farming wisdom that I hope to glean from him, and that he offered to cut my hay fields this season.

While stacking bales on a Sunday morning, we talked about water rights, business, and local history. I enjoyed learning about the community–how it was, and how it’s changed. He noted how things have changed in the community since COVID hit this year. A few businesses flopped which caused a domino effect on the local economic ecology. 

“We all depend on each other in one way or another, you know,” he said matter of factly.

Those words came back to me as I listened to this conversation with Brad and Jerry talking about reenvisioning what community means in light of the turn of events that have shook up and rippled through our lives this year. We all depend on each other in one way or another. This holds true for those in the nucleus of our lives and families, and those in widening circles from there–neighbors, friendships, business relationships. We’ve seen this interconnection with what’s required to put a halt to the spread of the CoronaVirus. As I reflect back to how the bees would visit the sweet purple-hued alfalfa flowers on our 40 acres this summer, I am reminded that how we depend on each other holds true for the land and environments, and the interconnected web of flora and fauna, that support our very livelihoods as well. 

When we widen our perspective, it’s possible to take in a view where we see at once the great expanse of all that’s before us, and the way everything comes together and has its place. It’s us, at the nexus, who get to imagine and live into what it means to find belonging in a world in which we all depend on each other in one way or another. 

What are the most important things we need to carry forward? What can be reenvisioned entirely? What does it mean to have a company and an organization from here on out? What does the organization of 2020 look like? How do we work together across the globe, across our teams, and through zoom rooms? Perhaps work and how many of us work has been one of the things that needs a big re-think. What does it mean to work together towards a common goal, mission, and vision? As I watch and listen to how clients have adjusted their organizations to this year (with an eye and ear to what’s beyond), I’m heartened not only by what’s possible, but what opportunities present themselves for the individuals who belong to these organizations. I wonder if there are more nourishing and positive shifts in the conversation around work and meaning on the horizon.