I can measure professional relevance in “seasons.” “Summer” is tuned into the zeitgeist, with media calls, requests for proposals and booming student applications. Everyone tries to make sense of the next burning issue, cerebrally frolicking. “Winter” is hibernation, maximizing existing reserves until it’s time to wake again. The world hums along in its well-plowed lanes, without need for off-piste thinkers.
Countries well below the equator flip their seasons. Mine are similarly out of sync; times of abundance are usually seasons of chaos and confusion for most others. They’re “Churchillian” cycles — darkest hours can also be the finest.
So this past year of pandemic and political turmoil has blazed with work. I just wrapped episode 14 of my “Co-Existing with COVID-19” series — there was so much “breaking” news leading up to that show — and audience questions —that I struggled to keep it evergreen for later viewing.
Just in the first three weeks of this new year, we’ve gone from insurrection to impeachment to inauguration — nation-shaking drama all in one place. I’ve been ask to comment on disinformation and de-platforming of an outgoing president (KUOW radio), as well as the storytelling power of a prodigal poet to celebrate an incoming one (KING5 TV).
The resonance of that particular work of art — “The Hill We Climb” — is instructive. It was an unexpected salve for our pain of the last few weeks (or past year). It was delivered both passionately and personally.
Inspirational storytelling is also aspirational: even as it necessarily integrates the creator’s subjectivity, thoughtful universalities invite us to see who we’d like to be in the offered narrative.
That said, this is no easy recipe. It takes a true talent and devotion to craft to “meet the moment” as one former President observed. Perhaps the kids are going to be alright. So will we all hopefully — and then it’ll be time to chill once again.
Until then, we try to make sense of the chaos and consider the “next normal.”
January 27, 2021 Protecting your business from disinformation and other narrative-borne threats (my Town Hall with Zignal Labs)
February 14, 2021 “The Fighter:” Michele Storms of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington (“Luminaries” salon with my students and a renowned leader)