If during these unprecedented times, you find yourself unhinged and at odds as to what to do with idle time while waiting to get back into society—welcome to the club! It’s a big club, and no doubt each of us has a favorite story as how life is changing and how we are coping. The lack of the rush that comes from the hustle and bustle of a rigorous time schedule as well as the isolation from friends and family is both a blessing and a curse, depending on your outlook. This definitely presents a situation to ask, “Is the glass half empty or half full?”

A Welcome Opportunity for Reflection

Being an optimist at heart, I began to look through my library for books I had already read and promised myself I would revisit when there was more time. My first choice was Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer (2000, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., San Francisco, CA). Several years ago, his book was part of the reading material when I was teaching the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy course (CAP®). Yes, I read it for the class, but did I really read it? Recently I had some idle time to not only read, but also, reflect on his message.

Inner Journey for Purpose and Meaning

The author takes us through his journey—the light and the dark—to find in his soul the true meaning of his purpose in life. In Chapter V of Leading from Within, he writes: “Go far enough on the inner journey, they all tell us—go past ego toward true self—and you will end up not lost in narcissism but returning to the world, bearing more gracefully the responsibilities that come from being human.” Palmer goes on to say: “A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there.”

How Will We Show Up in the World

Whether you call it “shadow or light” or “half-empty or half-full,” there are opportunities during this ‘time-out’ in our lives for each of us to reflect on how we will return to society and what will be our message. I encourage you to read this book. As we strive to listen and think more about how what we do and say affects others, I leave you with these words from Parker J. Palmer. “We have places of fear inside us, but we have other places as well—places with names like trust, hope and faith.”