All Together Now on Memorial Day

Welcome to the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a Strengths-Based approach to people, teams, and culture.

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States – a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel that died while serving in the Armed Forces. In normal circumstances, this is a long weekend for most people, spent grilling meats over a BBQ with friends and family, or perhaps going to a lake home somewhere or renting a cabin or cottage. I spent twelve years working in higher education, and so Memorial Day weekend always meant the start of summer and a more relaxed, laid back schedule ahead. Now with kids, it still sort of has that same meaning – like something just ended and something new is about to begin.

This Memorial Day, for obvious reasons, it feels different. We’re not going anywhere, nor are we having people over for burgers and brats. It’s just our family, here in Portland, OR, doing basically the same thing we’ve been doing for the past few months.

But I guess all of us are doing that together. Depending on where you live and what reopening looks like for your state, there is something oddly comforting I’m finding in the idea that all of us are celebrating this Memorial Day weekend not by going out and buying mattresses, but by staying home, apart, but together.

Inspiring Music

By now you’ve probably seen one of the myriads of videos on YouTube and social media, where musicians are doing at-home versions of their songs. There are too many to list here, but two of my favorites are the “Times like These” cover of the Foo Fighters song, and the new song by OK Go, “All Together Now.

The band OK Go is known for their elaborate music videos. I think they’re all like, one shot, one take, extremely complicated and REALLY cool! There’s one of them floating around in a plane at zero gravity, a Rube Goldberg type machine, one of them zipping around in a race car playing musical notes, and of course, their first and possibly most famous, the one where they are dancing on treadmills.

The video for All Together Now is quite different. They wrote and recorded the song together, alone, in their homes. You see each member of the band playing and singing on an assortment of instruments and what looks like stuff they found around their houses. The chorus of this song was actually the catalyst for this little podcast today. It goes like this:

Everywhere on earth, every single soul, everyone there is, all together now
And everyone alone all together on the precipice
All that mattered then, all that matters now, all that matters after the world shuts down 
All of it dissolved all together in the chrysalis
Together in the chrysalis

OK Go

I had to look up the word chrysalis, which any first-grader probably knows – or all of those parents who have suddenly become first-grade teachers, but a chrysalis is the hard exoskeleton covering that protects a developing butterfly. According to one website I found, “Before becoming butterflies, caterpillars enter the pupa stage, where they build that little sack, or chrysalis. The chrysalis protects the caterpillar as it begins to turn itself into a liquid, soupy substance.

I’m not sure about you, but I feel a bit like a caterpillar right now who has just liquified. Everything that previously had structure and predictability has melted away. BUT, I know this season won’t last forever. Similar to the caterpillar, I know someday, I – we – will emerge from the messy, broken apart time we find ourselves in. 

After doing a bit more research, I discovered that,

“caterpillars are born with everything they need to become butterflies. Some of these parts develop over time and are visible, like wing buds. The others can’t be seen. But the information for these parts is stored in the caterpillar’s cells, waiting to be unlocked. The caterpillar is also born with the ability to make a substance called an enzyme. The enzyme is a key to unlocking the butterfly from the chrysalis.”

Now, bear with me – this isn’t a perfect metaphor – and perhaps you can see where I’m going. I realize that after we emerge from this pandemic, we are not going to necessarily feel like carefree butterflies. It’s not the transformation from caterpillar to a butterfly I want to focus on, on this unusual Memorial Day, but instead let’s consider what is happening while we’re alone, together, in this chrysalis stage. 

When everything feels liquefied and we aren’t sure when we will emerge, perhaps we can see this as a time of being in a temporary little protective covering that will forever change who we are and how we see the world.

Maybe, if we can pause long enough to figure out what we truly value, we won’t go back to that same world, but instead. we’ll go back to a world where our priorities are aligned with those values, and we emerge looking more like a butterfly and less like the same caterpillar that went into that shell.

During the past few months of staying home, we have come to realize how beautiful life is. That every single soul is all together now. Despite the hardships and an unknown future, many of us have experienced beauty in unexpected places: cooking extravagant dinners in the middle of the week, staying up late with the kids, connecting virtually with friends we haven’t seen for a while, learning new skills, discovering new interests, or just sitting with a good beverage doing nothing at all.

Nothing changes until one day it does, and then there’s no going back…

Perhaps now more than ever, when we do emerge from this chrysalis experience, if we can come together, we will be stronger, braver, maybe a little wiser, and certainly forever changed. As the song goes, we’ll see just who we are.

Proceeds from that song will go entirely to Partners In Health, a global health organization restoring social justice by bringing quality health care to the most vulnerable around the world. If that’s of interest to you, there’s a link in the show notes.

We’ll be back next week with a recap from a virtual marathon our team ran alone, together. Then, in June, we’ve got some great content planned to help you and your team become stronger as we all move into our new realities.

Special thanks to Steph Wahlund, who helped me organize my thoughts around this, and of course our entire team.

About The Leadership Vision Podcast

The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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