Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for VIP concert experiences. I don’t think there’s anything cooler than meeting your favorite artists and collecting some limited-edition swag. Not all musicians do this sort of thing, but most of the singer-songwriters I happen to follow do. Over the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting Gavin Degraw, Matt Nathanson, and Andy Grammer. I’ve also met Derek and Julianne Hough and Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy from Dancing with the Stars.
When you do a meet and greet, you typically get merchandise like a bag, t-shirt, lanyard, poster, or signed set list. That’s in addition to a photo or two with the artist. Of course, these celebrities are constantly trying to shake things up, providing unique opportunities and premium items to fans. I’ve gotten everything from scented candles to pop sockets and also had the pleasure of participating in private Question & Answer sessions and acoustic pre-shows. One of the coolest things I have ever received in my goodie bag though is something that Andy Grammer handed out during his latest "Don't Give Up on Me" tour – a hardcover journal with the inscription “If it’s stupid to see the good in everything…call me naïve.”
Now, the journal could have resonated with me because I’m a writer, and I geek out every time I see a blank notebook. Think of all the possibilities of what could go inside! But it’s actually my favorite giveaway because I love the quote, which is a lyric from Andy’s song Naïve. With everything going on in the world today, it’s so hard not to focus on the destruction. We’re in a global pandemic that as of today has affected more than 6 million people worldwide. We’ve been stuck in our homes for months unable to see friends or family lest they infect us with the virus. And our economy is in ruins with approximately 1 in 4 Americans filing for unemployment. There’s absolutely nothing good about COVID-19.
Or is there?
Prior to the pandemic, my family was always on the go. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of our overextended calendars, but suffice it to say we were hardly ever home. I’m not complaining about this. Everything we committed to was our choice. We weren’t forced. We enjoyed being busy. However, we were stressed. All the time.
COVID-19 knocked everything off our calendars. Like other families, in those first few weeks, we mourned the loss of school, work, sports, and social activities. While there were new stressors that arose, such as navigating working from home while balancing distance learning or trying to get our hands on toilet paper or cleaning supplies at the local supermarket, many our old anxieties disappeared. We weren’t commuting two hours a day to and from work. We weren’t driving all over Northern Virginia to get our kids to sports activities. Suddenly, it felt like we weren’t holding our breath, hoping to reach our next deadline or destination on time. We could exhale again.
My husband and I own a home on a half-acre of land. When we bought the house, we thought having a big backyard would be wonderful, but it’s been a pain in the neck to upkeep. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve managed to weed and mulch flower beds that were completely neglected. We also planted a vegetable garden and tore down a broken swing set that had been disintegrating for years on the very back of our property. We’ve had the time and energy to discover and appreciate the outdoors again, even seeking out worms, lizards, frogs, and snakes underneath our backyard rocks.
My kids have decided, after years of collecting stuff in their rooms, that they don’t want it all. They’re going through old clothes and toys and making piles of things to trash, giveaway, or sell. They’re going “modern,” they tell me, which means sparse, clean, and uncluttered. How could I not encourage that? I’ve also started tackling projects that have been on the backburner for years like cleaning out our guest room closet and going through a bin full of memorabilia. I’ve read books I never had time to read, joined a creative writing group, and managed to design and launch my first website.
Now, I know that our family has been lucky. Both my husband and I have managed to keep our jobs during this mess. We haven’t struggled with putting food on the table or keeping shelter over our heads like so many other families. Those pressures are far greater than ours ever were, and I recognize that. But this global pandemic has forced everyone to slow down, and we can react in one of two ways – negatively or positively.
Those who react negatively will stew in their anger, fear, and disappointment, lashing out at the world. They’ll play the victim, cite how life is unfair, and blame others for their fate. Those who react positively will accept that this scenario is only a temporary hiccup and make the best of the damage. They’ll learn from it and grow.
I challenge all of you to try the latter way of thinking. Be introspective and dig deep. Use this situation to reevaluate your life. Are you happy with your job? Your education? Your relationships? Your home? If not, what would it take to make you happy? Do you have dreams collecting cobwebs? Decisions you have been putting off? Take advantage of this time to apply that famous Ghandi proverb to your personal life: be the change you want to see in the world.
COVID-19 has brought my family closer together. It’s allowed me to reprioritize what’s important in my life. It’s also brought me more personal fulfillment. Like the song lyric states, I choose to see the good in everything. But I don’t think that makes me naïve.
Not familiar with Andy Grammer’s song Naïve? Check it out here.