I’ll preface by saying that I was a Roman history and Russian political science double major, focused on studying the trends that history can expose to inform geopolitical realities of today.
With that, the pendulum of history will always swing. Knowing that, what knowledge can we leverage?
Economists will surely study the period of 2020 onwards for years; it undoubtedly sparked a new era. Not trends, but a transformed culture; specifically around the subject of work. It forced people to think differently. It obliterated comfort zones. It broke some people, bluntly. For others, it didn’t just change their mindset, it blew a steady breeze on the embers of curiosities, asking “what if”? For those, it changed their entire working methodologies and challenged the concept of what actually matters.
As a chronic illness “survivor” and a lawyer for entrepreneurs, it was more than interesting to watch. To many I spoke to, I remarked that watching society experience a collective endurance test, similar to those of us who have endured a life-changing illness or injury, there was a recognition of the mindset shift.
Today, we’re seeing trends seen very few times in history. The revival of the pursuit of beautiful lives- not in a flashy sense, but pure; honest. People seeking a new way of working, and the overlap of work with creativity resulting in an even more novel wave of innovation, similar to historical figures from centuries past, such as Michelangelo. Adopting non-traditional methodologies, and then pioneering new frontiers, such as Leonardo DaVinci. It’s no accident that as our society is experiencing the overturning of “conventionality”, we’re seeing a change in the mentality of work (showcased by a rise in entrepreneurship), and also seeing a change in lifestyle- a return to the pastoral lifestyle, and, I will posit, a revitalization of the American Dream. All (because of? despite?) in the face of a global calamity.
The bell has been rung.
Unsurprisingly, and as history indicated, turbulent economic times are of course following said global calamity.
At some point, as with any obstacle, you just decide. You look at what for all intents and purposes could be a calamity or an obstacle, and realize- I can do something with this. You look in the face of the person you’re supposed to fear, and recognize that there may be a different way. You don’t wait for permission, or perfection. What you want to do is too important to be hamstrung. Instead, you step out to build a life that is full and rich in the good stuff- the beauty of full work, and then sitting under the shade tree to actually rest in it.
And most importantly, you get to decide. You get to decide to pursue that curiosity, or that nudge that your business needs to shift, even when it feels like stepping off the ledge again. You also get to decide to pause, to take a look around, and be grateful for what you have created. You let in the simple joys. You stop forcing, stop controlling. You choose to cultivate the pioneering eye that can look like a pile of rubble, and see the bricks to start building.
The new Renaissance
What history demonstrates time and time again: repeatedly, there is a commonality between deep, collective hardship, and the simultaneous revival of the pursuit of arts and a more peaceful lifestyle. There is also a clear and definitive correlation between the former and a culturally-ingrained drive for achievement, occurring simultaneously with a renewed willingness to pursue a more quiet live of slow living; to grow right. Instead of the typical rushing and pushing; instead, building something meaningful and enduring. The clearest example? The Renaissance of the 15th century, which, I posit, has never been so closely mirrored by a society, until today.