Today is Day 11 of my self-isolation. As I wake up, I stay in bed for a bit longer looking out of my window at the skyline of Toronto. I listen to the sounds outside. I can recognize them now, while in the past it has been just the buzz of a busy urban morning. Now I recognize the sounds of footsteps and occasional beeps of delivery trucks (there is a supermarket on the ground floor).

But mostly I hear seagulls as they fly by my window (Oh, we live by a beautiful lake!). And I hear sirens (St. Michael’s Hospital is just down the road).

As I register them in the morning, I cannot tune out of those sounds during my day. I keep noticing them as I work with my clients, talk to my friends on Zoom, or drink tea with my daughter.

Sounds of sirens, loud and frequent. Cries of seagulls, free and chaotic. This is what the world needs me to notice.

There are people in those ambulances. Paramedics, focused and tired. Patients, sick and scared. I keep thinking about those patients. As they enter the hospital walls, they are so alone. Some will not come back and will leave this world while their families will grieve elsewhere, in self-isolation. And the paramedics: do they have enough protection? Can they rest when they come back home to their worried spouses and their bored kids?

I am thinking how many aspects of our way of life pre-quarantine, that we miss so much and long to come back to, are what led us into this predicament. I am asking myself: what do I need to do now?

As I hear seagulls conversing over our silent streets, I think: do they fly back to the lake often? How will the lake look like in two months with less activity around it? My friend from Shanghai told me that she had never seen such a blue sky over her city. Someone on Instagram shared pictures of clear water in the Venice Canals. I am picturing farmland waking up, snow melting in the forests up North. I smile at a video of a bear coming out of its hibernation. Mother Nature is returning to order. What will she birth now, as her youngest, the Homo Sapiens, are sent back to their room?

What will we discover in this pause, as we listen into it? How will we want to change our ways as we come back?

I decided to start and sustain conversations to shape a new normal. In the last two weeks, I have spoken to my coaching and leadership development community, to my colleagues and clients from all over the world. Families are reconnecting. Businesses are setting up virtually, trying to keep people working and paying those who cannot. People are coming together to learn, exercise, exchange ideas online. There are online tutors and therapists. Fundraisers send equipment to hospitals. Actors read books to kids on Skype. Volunteers reach out to the elderly to support them.

I see how sharing feelings and starting conversations serves us to figure out how to be in this pause. These conversations create space to design how we want to shape the World After.

I want a world with more seagulls and fewer sirens.

Let’s talk!

Photo credit Dasha Khomenko