Opportunities

It’s been almost two months now. Two months since the lockdown of Norway, the country I am presently staying in, my country. Since then I have tried to stay positive. I have managed—sometimes, and sometimes not so well. As such, it’s far from being a unique experience or reaction. We have all felt the impact of the virus outbreak, some certainly a lot more than I have.

These days, things are slowly starting to open up again, here in Norway and in many other places in the world. It’s with a feeling of relief and hope, that we are now able to venture out a little more, be a little more social, although still complying with the requirements of infection control and social distancing.

However, we all know we still have a long way ahead of us before the world will be back on its regular pace.

The long-term perspective is maybe the hardest part to handle, mentally and probably in many other ways, too. It’s not about the virus itself but about its impact on work, economy, heath, our social life, yes, all aspects of life. We cannot see into the crystal ball and predict how the outcome will be, how this will all end. The only thing certain is that the crisis is far from over. Maybe now is when it really begins.

Thus, more than ever, we need to stay positive. Perhaps then, a quote by John F. Kennedy can be of some inspiration: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

Kennedy’s interpretation isn’t quite accurate, but it nevertheless gives us a message to hold on to these days. And something to strive for. In dealing with the crisis, we have options. We can deal with it as a danger or we can try to see the opportunities it provides. Well, the healthiest approach is both, of course. We shan’t overlook the danger of covid-19, but if we fail to hold on to the opportunities the pandemic provides, we do ourselves a disfavour.

In a newsletter by the Canadian photographer David duChemin emailed a month and a half ago, he wrote: “Unlike the dangers in life that come to our door and barge right in, opportunities knock and wait for us to answer. They need us to take hold of them. To act. It’s not just positive thinking, and hoping it all turns out OK. It’s taking responsibility for our mental health, for our time, and doing what is positive and healthy. It’s looking forward, and being hopeful. I think that in tension with the many challenges that we’re all going through right now, we can also choose from among many opportunities.”

To act. That is indeed what we need to do. In my first blog post after my country’s lockdown, I encouraged all of us to stay positive and fill the extra time that the pandemic has imposed on us with positive actions. Learn. Read. Expand our horizon.

Have you been able to make use of whatever opportunities the crisis has cast upon you? I hope so, and I hope you have been able to stay positive, too. Please share whatever you been able to turn to your advantage in these times of difficulties.

I for one, have had much more time at home and in my office—which is in my home, so no big difference between the two, as a matter of fact. The difference, however, is that before I was out meeting people, photographing people and experience the world in all its magnitude and misery (yes, both). Now I talk with people on the phone or online. And I don’t stress around trying to get from one place to another.

The latter has been a positive experience. Less stress—who didn’t dream about that before? Suddenly I have more time. Time that always used to be in constant demand, simply not enough of it. Now I have time for all those tasks and wishes I could only dream about before. I can workout every day. I can run four or five times a week. Last week I made it four times to the top of the mountain overlooking Bergen, my city. It’s not a big mountains, about 640 metres of elevation and a little more than an hour for me to reach walking or hiking from my home—and a little less than an hour to get back. I got to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets from the top one evening last week. How about that?

Generally it’s been a time in which I have been able to focus more on health in general and eat better. When rushed for time, I don’t always manage as much as I know I should.

Now it’s also been time to prioritize my tasks, for instance the time I use on social media. I don’t spend excessive amount on social media in the first place, but I always feel I am behind and need to do more. That I have all let got of. I have been able not to be sucked in, actually spend less time and not even feeling stressed about it. At the same time, I think I use the technology in a much healthier way, staying more in touch with people I care for and with communities I cherish, such as my blogger friends.

The extra time available has provided me with an opportunity to read more books. I always try to read, but now, over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to make a dent in the huge pile of books that always wait to be read. Right now I have started reading John Williams’ Stoner, almost an old classic now, which feels appropriate for these times.

It’s also been an opportunity to not be so overwhelmed and a chance to focus on more intentional things. Originally the pandemic itself, was overwhelming, but now that I have learned to live with it, the fact that the world around me doesn’t come crushing in on me, feels liberating. Less email, less meetings, no social gatherings, no travels. It’s simply a lot quieter now and I start to feel at peace and a calmness taking hold of me—how strange that might sound with the pandemic still hanging over us as a threat.

My biggest concern is for all those who are more impacted than me, who are desperate, who lack the resources to handle the pandemic in a safe way or are sick and struggle to survive. So part of the opportunities that have arisen for us with more resources is showing more generosity and empathy and sharing with those who need it more than ever.

Have you been able to make use of the opportunities that has come out of the present crisis? And how has that been for you? Please share your experiences, as inspiration and encouragement for others.

60 thoughts on “Opportunities

  1. Life hasn’t changed that much for me, except that I’ve been trying to stay off the computer more. Seriously, while most people have been on the computer more, I have been gradually reducing my online time.

    I have been seriously thinking about how to make my day and life more meaningful and that means not relying on the computer so much. I don’t have good computer skills anyway and little interest in social networking and to be honest, after 10 years of blogging and now, little opportunity to do much photography, I’m thinking of exploring something new. Maybe something old (pottery or some other creative pursuit I’ve done in the past) or maybe something new (which I haven’t thought of yet).

    Of course, it’s modern technology that has helped many folk be more creative about earning a living, but I’m going the other way when the current restrictions are mostly over. A believe a change is as good as a holiday and since I don’t have the health to go on holiday, ‘change’ will have to be IT.

    For many, family life has expanded and become more creative and active despite the restrictions staying indoors. Just goes to show how easy it is for folk to use some right brain function when they have to.

    Computers have kept families and friends in touch and even, opened up some opportunaties for others to start new businesses online. Perhaps some retraining and new careers will open up for some. The important point is that the people are open and receptive to change, for there’s no certainties in the future.

    I feel deeply for all the people who have lost their jobs though. Our PM is hoping the country’s workforce is back full time by July which looks like a very real possibility in my country of Australia. But some workers will not have this option. I’ve lived through some very frugal times myself and despite the stress, I hope the new jobless take some time to rethink their lifestyle and debt levels. It’ll be a changed world on the other side of the pandemic, but I hope it might be a better world with more family time and care for the environment. We’ve already seen the positive impact on the pollution levels without so many vehicles on the road.

    I’d like the Government (in any country) to think more about helping the homeless and those with physical and mental health problems. Not everyone is going to make it through this time without some serious mental repercussions and the number of homeless in my state alone is mind-boggling (and that enormous number was before the pandemic).

    We are all in this together and no one will come out the other side unchanged.

    1. No doubt the digital possibilities offer a lot of options that most of us have taken to our hearts and enjoy—to various degree. I still think creating some physical and tangible like ceramics, or prints of photos, represent some quite different and maybe more satisfactory. Like you, I have toned down the use of online medias, without being judgmental about it. Personally, I think it’s always good to expand and try create some new. As for the pandemic, you are right, not one of us will come out out it unchanged. Thank you for sharing your reality and your thoughts. Vicki.

  2. my life has changed to teaching young children from home, at a distance and rarely having a chance to interact with family and friends in person. i have enjoyed the simpler life and slower pace, but living in the states, without clear direction, each state has been left to its own, and our cases continue to rise. as much as i want to return to ‘open’, i don’t feel it’s time yet, other than in little safe steps, and some just want to pretend it will go away on it’s own.

    1. Yes, I follow the development in the States, with some discomfort. Hopefully, despite clear directions, I hope it will be good in the end. Stay healthy and positive, Beth.

  3. My husband, his brother, his brother’s wife and I spent a day in Bergen in May 2015. It was there that I found a handmade Viking drinking horn for my son. Can’t believe that was five years ago!

    We took the funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen and enjoyed the view from the top. That’s amazing that you ran up there several days in a row. We were exhausted just trying to get ourselves and our luggage up a hillside to our Airbnb apartment. But we found Bergen to be a very beautiful city.

    I’ve been feeling peaceful and incredibly lucky, too, to have an income and the means to have our groceries delivered. And to currently have no relatives in nursing homes to worry about. The best way our life has changed is that we’re getting outside for walks in the woods or by the sea almost every day. But I do sorely miss seeing my grandchildren…

    1. Nothing bad having more time for a bit more of outdoor life, particularly when you don’t have to worry too much about being able to get through the pandemic and no relatives in immediate danger either. Cool that you visited Bergen when it is at its best, in May. By the way, the mountain I referred to was Mount Ulriken, not Fløyen. Mount Ulriken has an even more spectacular view.

  4. Nothing much has changed for me. We have always lived a fairly secluded life anyway. Our big unknown is this summers art shows. We are making new inventory, but who knows if we will show it.

    1. The way you have chosen to live, seems to be perfect for you and certainly less depending on the rest of the world. Hopefully, you will soon be able to attend shows again.

  5. My day to day personal life as a working nomad hasn’t changed much except for resupply runs and adhering to pandemic rules for outings. I’m still in nature every day, sticking my feet in creeks, watching birds, and having conference calls under a tree.

    I’ve been online less, but on texting and phone more as I keep up with family and friends across the country.
    Less blog reading, truthfully, and less writing. Taking more photos, though!

    The biggest stressor has been work, as my clients are international and we support all IT infrastructure, so all their shifts to remote staffing and office closures came in a huge rush and is ongoing in many ways.

    So no extra time here, but not much additional stress related to personal life, only work life.

    1. Sounds like you are in a good place, being able to stick your feet in creeks, and still work with your clients. Even if it was a bit of a rush because of the shifts caused by corona. Thanks for sharing Sunny.

  6. As always,Otto, you lead by example. I confess to being one that hasn’t handled this as well as I thought. At first I spent hours reading every morning online about what was going on. Within a couple of hours I would be crying my eyes out and heading back to bed. I have now cut back on my computer considerably (I even turn it off now-it use to run 24/7). That has really helped. My biggest issue has been being at the top of a high rise in a city that has none of my friends or family in it. Two of us in 800 sq ft does not bode well for fresh air and exercise. We are also old. Me an asthmatic cancer patient and him an insulin dependent diabetic. With the elevator the only way out, we feel like we are risking our lives every time we go for groceries or medication. However, a few days ago we were coming back from picking up prescriptions in a bit of a daze I looked over at the race track where He-Who works. It is closed and he hasn’t been working obviously. As far as the eye can see it is empty parking lots. I suggested we drive over and walk the perimeter of one of the lots to get our bodies moving. So we did. I only lapped once that first day and he did twice. It is a flat surface and we could see if anyone was coming toward us from quite far away. It is not the prettiest walk but it is safe and has already made a huge difference in how we feel. There is nothing like sunshine and fresh air to put things right.

    1. Any walk and any kind of exercise is good. It also helps built resistance towards any viruses. And, yes, digging too much into the news isn’t always the best for our mental health (say I who make a living of the media). I hope you will be able soon feel a little more free in your daily life, Michelle.

  7. Otto
    I have started to get interested in Instagram again. About two years ago on a post you mentioned an app for editing photos. It was quite robust and i would like to use it again. Do you recall the name?
    Stay safe and well. thank you

    1. I can’t really remember what I mentioned back then, but I am pretty sure it must have been Snapseed. Still, today, it’s my favourite app for editing photos on the cell phone. Cool that you have grown an interest for Instagram. Have fun!

      1. Thank you very much. When I retired I started driving for Uber which I like a lot. Unfortunately today I am looking to fill in because of the virus. I have been trying some macro in the house waiting for flowers to bloom and the insects to arrive.

  8. I think you’ve expressed so well what most are experiencing in this crisis. In browsing the comments I see you mentioned an app for Instagram photo editing. I just recently opened an Instagram account, I’m sure it’s quite a mess but I’m learning.
    As a nurse In a metropolitan city The pandemic has had a tremendous emotional effect and much frustration due to lack of leadership.
    Your photos are beautiful as always. 😊

    1. Thank you Holly. For the comment, but most of all for the all important work you devoting yourself to as a nurse in these days. You make the world safer. And I am sure it takes a toll on you and your colleagues. By the way, have fun with your Instagrams. That’s really all it takes. 🙂

  9. Strange two monthes… Books are my passion, and I read a few books, could not concentrate.
    I phoned some friends, some others phoned to me. We were anxious about each other.
    We respected the new rules- wearing masks… and I was surprised because people do not.
    Family is all right – I hope the same for you all.
    amitiés 🙂

  10. Life hasn’t changed hugely for me, other than the fact that I can’t meet my friends in person, but I’m with you on “I think I use the technology in a much healthier way, staying more in touch with people I care for and with communities I cherish, such as my blogger friends.”.,..

  11. Your post reminds me of the classic book, The Power of Positive Thinking. This assault upon humanity creates opportunities, no doubt. Each of us though are bound by inner forces that now more than ever are being seemingly controlled by outside forces. It’s a real emotional roller coaster that gives one day an uplift and another a trip into unknown psychological territory. What is most difficult is the unknown path ahead and how long we must walk this tightrope. Humans are resilient and we need to tap into that quality with a vengeance. There are so many giving to the common good that is staggers to witness others whining about loss freedoms. To wear a mask is to protect oneself and others. My country is failing us, and it is up to each of us to listen to the experts, try to understand the science behind this insidious virus, and show compassion and empathy for others. First and foremost, we must take care of ourselves, so that we can be there for others in this global crisis.

  12. Good post Otto!! I can’t say much about creating opportunities because my husband is still working, and i’m still sick at home as i have been for 25 years… so no, we haven’t been impacted that much… xoxox

  13. Like you, I generally spend a lot of my time going to appointments and meetings. A lot of time driving, often stuck in traffic. While I’m blessed that I’ve been able to continue working and still have had a few appointments showing properties, most meetings and classes are now on Zoom, which has given me back so much time I used to spend going back and forth to my main office. I’ve always mostly officed from home, so that hasn’t changed. I look forward to things getting back (closer) to normal one day but I admit I’ll miss being able to attend meetings and classes online and having less traffic on the road when I do have to go out.

    1. A lot of people are meeting through Zoom or other equivalent platforms because of covd-19. I think it has been an eyeopener, albeit forced out of necessity, but I think many will keep using the technology after the society has opened up again. It’s just so much more stress free compared to have to rush from one actual meeting to another.

  14. Most of our fears and uncertainties are founded in what might happen. In the event, things are rarely as bad as we feared they would be. We must, of course, behave in a socially responsible way but we really have little control over the future. However, we do have control over the NOW and the challenge is to make best use of the opportunities available to us, NOW!

  15. I’ve been on the phone a lot, and talking to people I didn’t keep up with well enough before. I guess the pandemic is a reminder to appreciate people while we have them. I wish I could actually visit with them too.

  16. I’m a freelance editor working from home anyway, so life isn’t all that different from before, other than the inconvenience of wearing the mask, having to run out and shop early in the day when I’d rather take advantage of my relative clarity of mind at that time to get some work done, and the claustrophobic feeling of knowing that I can’t plan a trip out-of-state. For the sake of my physical and mental health I’ve decided not to succumb to this pervasive fear that keeps everyone indoors most of the time. I look at the advance weather forecasts and plan accordingly when and where I can go for a walk and some photography. Giving in to the fear, carefully studying all the statistics each day, ordering food delivery instead of going out for some fresh air and a change of scenery isn’t going to improve or protect either one’s own mental or physical health or the situation in general. And guess what, Otto, I’ve taken the time to get better acquainted with some of Norway’s contemporary composers, especially those writing choral music.

    1. I so agree with you. If we give in to the fear, we stop living. And there is not reason to do so. Yes, we have to take some precautions, but there is still plenty we can do, as you suggest. Thanks for sharing your experience, Nancy – and cool to read about your interest in Norwegian composers. I bet you know more than I do.

  17. They say that Covid-19 treats everyone the same, regardless of status, but I don’t know if that’s true. Some folks can continue to work much as they always have, albeit doing meetings more remotely. Other’s not so much. The challenges more profound, the opportunities more limited. Let’s hope they find the luck and wisdom to find the opportunities.
    As for us, life isn’t that much different. We’d already migrated to a less stressful, retired life that had limited interactions. There are just fewer chances to get out. Nearly all of our trails are closed. As for the camera, it’s almost all macro work these days, in the yard, in the neighborhood. And I’m making small inroads on that backlog of reading and video courses…

    1. Sounds like you are keeping yourself busy enough, even when there are limitations on where you can go. Covid-19 doesn’t seem to treat everybody the same. Those who are poorer and are in less healthy shape are definitely more at risk.

  18. The pandemic has not affected me much, given that I’m “retired”, do my art work from home, and am not one paycheck away from poverty. However, the fact that I can be here mostly unaffected has given me a sense of survivor guilt when I think about all the other people who have been affected, and if they have not died, will be in a difficult situation maybe for the rest of their lives. It’s sad all around, and especially so when you think that the larger part of the devastation was most likely avoidable.

    1. I am happy to read that the corona outbreak hasn’t had much affect on you. I also understand the guilt feeling. At the same time there is no one to blame for the outbreak itself. I am not sure it was avoidable. How various authorities and how people individually have responded to the outbreak, though, that is a different story. In my opinion.

  19. Before the virus, as a nature photographer I would have been going out a lot in the spring, which is the peak season for wildflowers. With the virus, as a nature photographer I have been going out a lot this spring, which is still the peak season for wildflowers.

        1. Kudos to Steve! I took a long drive (along with two cameras) into the remote Catskills today and photographed what may well be the first and only trillium to have sprouted there this far. I refuse to give in to the fear and the cowering-indoors routine.

          1. Surprisingly or not, I’ve been out as often in nature and taken as many pictures in April–May as I ever have during the same period in a normal year. The plants and animals don’t know there’s a pandemic, in Texas or in the Catskills.

  20. Wise words Otto. As you have already seen I have used the garden to watch and photograph nature and now, with the easing of lockdown rules, I am able to ‘spread my wings’ a little further afield. This helps i reducing the stress of going about my daily job working in a supermarket.

  21. I’m one of the lucky ones. Working on boats provides both isolation and an outdoor environment: both approved under the guidelines. After an initial loss of some jobs, I’ve gained others, so I work as the weather allows. My favorite avocations, writing and nature photography, also are inherently safe. I’ve traveled regularly to some of my favorite spots, and usually I’m the only person around.

    I do have a sense that our media, whether intentionally or not, stirs anxiety with their reports as often as they provide real ‘news.’ So, I’m limiting my consumption of Covid-related news, and that has helped me to maintain a certain balance though all this. After all — there are only so many times we need to be told to wash our hands, and the wrangling of the politicians over all of this is inherently boring. So, on I go: cautious, but not fearful.

    1. You are in a position I think many of us envy (but of course you have chosen this deliberately and we could all do the same). But yes, the news feed does stir up anxiety. I know enough from the inside to say that for some it’s intentionally because anxiety increases sales. And politicians use the same tactic. They increase anxiety in the population to get acceptance for whatever undemocratic deed they want to pursue. Still, I think people in general, need to be reminded of the necessity of personal hygiene. I see to many people being completely ignorant of it, even in these times.

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