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04.30.2020 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

A Requiem Scenario

The pandemic is the portal from which society can heal.

I wrote that sentence in my journal the other morning. Horrific as the last few weeks/months have been, there are a lot of innovative changes rising up. I’m leaning into the unpredictable future and wondering what it will look like.

As a society, will we take notice and submit to the changes or will we fight to restore things to what was before?

One of the things I’ve been wondering about has to do with the unusual season of cool weather we’re having here in Florida.

In my 30+ years of living here, I’ve never seen such a mild and pleasant spring. By the end of March, we’re typically well into heat and humidity. This year, as May approaches, we’re still experiencing cool evenings and mornings in the low 60’s. Yesterday, I had to wear a sweatshirt!

I’m wondering, is this unusual weather related to the fact that carbon dioxide emissions have fallen due to fewer cars and planes in our atmosphere? Scientists indicate that this decline is only temporary and still not enough to solve our climate issues. Even so, the data is a clear reminder that our individual actions directly impact global ecosystems.

I’m wondering how these types of scenarios will cause us to reinvent how we do life moving forward? As one way of life dies, will we rise to a new and better way of life that honors and supports our collective society?

I think about these things as I examine the patterns in the larger system because, well, yes, I’m a systems geek. But, also because I’ve been using this shelter-in-place requiem scenario to examine what must die within myself.

I’ve been reflecting on the who, why, and how of my life. What can I learn from this mysterious moment in history? How will I change as a result of this learning?

In my field of human development, making meaning of critical moments, most particularly requiem scenarios, is how we transform into a new way of being in the world. I don’t want to miss this moment. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to rise up into someone beyond who I am now. I’d rather embrace change on behalf of my one small part in this grand universe.

What’s Your Requiem Scenario?

During my sequestered season, I’ve been rereading a sterling book that was written in 2005 that is extremely relevant to these unprecedented times.

Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society, written by the renowned Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer, points to our current requiem scenario. In its simplest form, such a scenario is representative of a personal near death experience or a global crisis. In both cases, we’re being called to explore what’s truly important to us as individuals who are part of a larger global society.

The authors offer layers of profound commentary pertinent to our current situation. For sake of brevity, I’ll point you to one significant construct: intentionality.

We have all been challenged and tested to the max these past many weeks. You have been sequestered and given the opportunity to dive deep into what is truly important to you, your family, and your business.

In these unique moments where you’ve hopefully explored your highest potential, what have you learned about yourself and others?

This is an important question as we step into this new normal. We won’t be on the other side of this pandemic for a very long time. The hard work is just beginning. The combination of awareness and resilience is required.

As the doors open and you are theoretically set free, you get to decide if you want to resume life as “normal” or if you want to innovate beyond that which you ever imagined possible.

Either way, your decisions will impact the collective. It’s not about “putting the mask” on your own face for the sake of survival. It’s about serving and protecting those beyond you. Collective consciousness is now more important than ever before.

Part of collective consciousness is acknowledging the collective trauma that we have all endured and will continue to endure. This means that we must be kind and patient with one another as we step outside our shelters. We must die to self. We must love beyond our own capacity.

So many issues and so little time, but I’d like to encourage you, as life opens up—to avoid the temptation to jump back into your frenetic world too quickly without some serious thought and consideration.

I ask that you move into this next season as a far more intentional human being.

Do nothing—nothing—not even in thought—that is out of alignment of that which is good for our collective society.

Because in this season of rising from the requiem scenario, all that is wrong with the system “out there,” e.g, pollution, political division, blame, misplaced loyalties, the economy, and so forth, begins with our own internal system.

In other words, the problems are not out there with “them.” The issues begin within, and each of us has the power to be, as Gandhi says, the change we want to see.

Let’s start with the question, how will you be different moving forward, and watch what happens.


For up-to-date information on how others are handling the challenges of COVID-19, please listen to some special episodes of my podcast, The Other Side of Potential: https://sharonspano.com/podcast/.

If you’re stuck and would like to schedule a one-on-one call with me, please go to: https://go.oncehub.com/crisiscoach.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. April 30, 2020