Except for the baby stroller her nine-month-old daughter Jessica was in when she was on her daily run, my friend, Joanne, lost everything she owned in the Oakland hills fire 25 years ago, on October 20.
When she was able to get access to her home, several days after the fire began, all was gone. Everything. The house, her clothes, Jessica’s toys, her photos, her books, all her furniture, her dishes and pots. Everything. There was nothing that could be saved or salvaged. Nothing.
Danger is defined as ‘the possibility of suffering harm or injury; the possibility of something unwelcome or unpleasant.’ Clearly, Joanne was experiencing danger at this time.
She went to stay with a friend of hers. That evening, Joanne realized that Jessica needed diapers, so she went to the local drug store to buy some. While there, she realized she, herself, needed a toothbrush and toothpaste. She stopped and as was her habit, she picked up the toothpaste she usually bought. She then turned toward the toothbrushes.
She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the enormous selection that was in front of her. She felt overwhelmed with the many selections. She felt she could not breathe. She closed her eyes, stood with both feet planted firmly, and took one very, very deep breath, held it, and exhaled. She opened her eyes.
What stood in front of her now was not overwhelm, but opportunity. This circumstance presented an opportunity for her to do something different. Something that was not normal for her. Something that caused her to choose to change.
She asked herself, “If I choose to look at this moment as an opportunity, what is the opportunity that is open to me now? What are the choices that open up to me from this space?”
As she looked at the toothbrushes she thought it would be easiest to just get the same brand she had always used, but then thought the opportunity that was open to her now was to get the electric toothbrush she had been wanting to try for a while.
“What is the opportunity that is open to me now?”
To try the electric toothbrush.
She bought it.
That is how she made it through one of the worst crises in her life. She kept asking the question, “If I choose to look at this moment as an opportunity, what is the opportunity that is open to me now?”
Quite simply, that is the duality of change. There is danger in change. There is opportunity in change.
Whether the change is out of your control or within your control, it doesn’t matter. The duality of change will always exist. You choose.
It is up to you to look at the change through the lens of opportunity and ask yourself, “If I choose to look at this moment as an opportunity, what is the opportunity that is open to me now?”
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