As We Venture Back Into Our Lives
At Truth Alone, it’s never only about us individually; it’s also always about all of us together collectively. We say this often, because we believe it--one nature, one world, one interconnected ecosystem deeply involving all of us together as one.
This has not ever felt more profoundly true for me, Founder & Chief Executive of Truth Alone: For Life & Earth, then during this time of pandemic that has visibly shaken all of our lives on a global scale. There has been no sheltering from feeling the painful loss of lives and livelihoods, or feeling concern about how all this ends. This experience has joined us all together very personally, and that actually has been a very good thing across the board, from generous acts of kindness to lending support and hope for a healthier future. But first, the matter at hand is about today.
As sheltering in place rules around the country begin to relax, we realize that there is nothing relaxed about this. It feels more than a little daunting trying to find our comfort zone in venturing out and coming together when all is not yet well. We thought that some of you might be feeling the same way. So this is just to share some of our personal thoughts about preparing to go back out. This thinking has helped us to feel more socially in control, safe, and confident in our new physical distancing behavior.
Let’s start with terminology, Social Distancing Vs Physical Distancing:
In truth, we prefer the term physical distancing to connote the physical distance necessary to help prevent transmitting the virus. During this time of physical separation and distancing, we stress the importance of maintaining social connections to reinforce personal support, to exchange empathy, to maintain relationships and to nourish sound mental health. Physical distancing does not imply social isolation, as Social Distancing might be mistakenly understood. To the contrary, physical distancing is a way for us to consider coming back together while taking care to foster social connections.
We look at Physical Distancing a practice (inclusive of related behaviors that help prevent transmission) just as Sustainable Living is a way of being that requires practice. There’s an upside: both are about caring, and both contribute to a culture of caring . Both are about caring for each other, and caring about the world we inhabit together. In the same way that we have gotten committed to not buying virgin plastic, or sorting the rubbish (compost, landfill, recycle), or making sustainable choices, physical distancing during this time of pandemic is another commitment, and a practice that similarly involves careful behavior and wise decision making.
Physical distancing, like sustainability, is actually a “team effort”—it’s about each of us individually taking care in our own behavior, and coming together in the same way with a shared common purpose. At some point, seemingly soon, it’s going to be about how we reconnect in our lives, in society, and at work. For sure, this is going to be personal for all of us. It’s not likely going to be easy. And it certainly cannot be business as usual. We don’t mind stating the obvious because it’s worth the emphasis: it’s going to take commitment, practice, and creativity, socializing our concerns, preferences, and needs. It’s going to take generosity and heart. As with the progress of sustainable initiatives this century, and these need our support too, we’re confident in our common humanity to come together and accomplish great things.
Take care of your safety; this is a good foundation for everything else. By taking care of yourself, you are also vicariously taking care of those around you.
Honor Everyone’s Space:
Just as with sustainability, not everyone will share the same sense of urgency about physical distancing practices, nor will everyone share the same concern about living within a pandemic. Honor everybody’s space and unique way of being, while taking care of your safety first.
In being calm we are clear headed in our safety protocols, enabling us to be a positive contribution to our collective health & welfare. For us at Truth Alone: For Life & Earth, it all begins with who we are being first and foremost, and by association to our broader like minded community, we take heart in knowing we are never alone in our practice.
Socialize your interests, preferences, and needs with friends, family, colleagues:
This is a big one. Talk about how it works for you, and get a sense of how it will work for others. How will we all put it together?
We expect that businesses will lead with guidelines and actions that they have taken to consider the safety and social sensitivities of staff for resuming operations. Still, we encourage sharing ideas and thoughts about the new world we are navigating especially with those whom we will be spending most of our time during each day.
It will be a natural tendency for our guards to go down as we get back to some of our normal everyday routines, seeing family, friends and colleagues we haven’t seen in weeks, and all appears to be well. There may be a little awkwardness around the new physical distancing practices, mask wearing, and sanitizing. This is why talking is so important. This is not the time to be dropping our guard, rather make known what’s true for you and keeping your truth present. Being social about the two-ton elephant in the room will come as a big relief for everyone to acknowledge its presence in the room. From there you can all work around it together knowing how everyone is thinking. We bring this awareness into our space whether it is social or business.
Wearing a Face Covering:
This is not so much about what we prevent ourselves from catching, rather it’s about shielding others from the radius of our own aerosolized exhale. Shielding our exhale keeps condensates nearest to ourselves. For the time being, we’re ok with everyone keeping their breathing to themselves. There, we said it. Do what’s right for you. What’s your truth?
Managing High Touch Surfaces:
Personally speaking, I have become “Housekeeping” everywhere I go. I sanitize everything I touch, both before and after. As a practice, I clean up high touch surfaces that I have used because in taking care of myself first I'm taking care of those around me. Our “Kit” when walking out the door includes our face covering, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. We realize that not everyone has access to these, which brings us to our next point.
Being Aware of Higher Risk Situations:
Above all, the true practice is about being aware. Even in the absence of a “sanitizing kit”, it’s about being aware of higher risk situations
And in this awareness, its about being mindful of simple priorities: routinely washing your hands, creating more distancing and/or avoiding a space due to crowding, high touch surfaces, prolonged duration occupancy, and no matter what, live this mantra, don’t touch your face.
In the absence of touching, such as hand shaking, I personally have taken to bowing. I have borrowed bowing from Japanese culture as my personal preference, which allows distance and conveys formal acknowledgement, appreciation, and respect. We have become a new touch-less society, and bumping elbows in place of handshaking feels awkward and impersonal. Do what’s right for you, and talk about it. If I hadn’t shared with my close peeps what I was doing in bowing, no one would understand it. Now they know, and others have picked it up--I’m receiving reciprocal bows.
It is largely agreed upon by Body Language experts that 50-80% of our communication is already non-verbal, and conveyed by body language: our posture, eye movement, hand and arm placement are all very expressive. This does not have to be complex. Be creative, gesture gently, and a common theme for us always is to talk about it. Who we are being in a group contributes to that group dynamic. Each of us is influential. And nothing prevents us from saying that we are smiling beneath our mask or being more expressed to say “nice to see you” in acknowledging others passing by.
This is a tough time, and uncharted territory for us all. Over the most recent two months, we have been so impressed and deeply touched by heroic acts of kindness that are showing up to help each other, our communities, and even internationally to help people and systems in distress. This is our common humanity coming together at its best to demonstrate caring.
Caring is what prompted us to share with all of you how we are feeling about the inevitable necessity of joining each other again in society and in business. And for us, caring is its own form of subtle, albeit powerful, activism. In caring, we extend value and power, like voting, for what’s important to us.
In the unity caused by this very sad experience of pandemic, it is certainly our hope and our work that we all come together to vote for a more sustainable economy and future. That we unite in looking towards a new way of being that is less dangerous to our planet, nature, natural resources, animal habitat and ourselves. That we pursue and vote for leadership that actually respects the dignity of every human being. There is a lot at stake that has been brought to light by this experience of pandemic in our lives.
The first steps to be taken are those that help us come back together as family, society, and business: safety first. As we develop confidence in our practices, and eventually find our safety zone in a new world, then we encourage everyone’s activism in caring about the sustainable well being of the complex, albeit delicate, global ecosystem that involves us all deeply.