The Human Instinct – Adapt, Create, Thrive

In the past, I’ve noticed a strong pattern in my creativity.

The times I’ve imposed tight restrictions, I’ve felt more creative, and been more likely to dig deeper to experiment, try new approaches, and have fun. 

Examples include focusing only on writing six word stories when I was struggling for writing direction and ideas, and for a long period my entire poetry output being in the form of 5-7-5 syllable haiku.

I felt both of these phases strongly honed my writing, and ideas seem near endless.

With photography, projects like One Month One Camera, and One Room Fifty Photographs have helped me sharpen up my photography, see more, and push past what initially seemed like inhibiting limitations.

Back the present time, and it’s been an eventful few days, with increasing restrictions placed on our “normal” lives and social freedom by our government. 

But what’s come to the fore to me is how individuals and communities have dug in, adapted and been highly creative in how to embrace these changes and thrive.

Some particular examples that have cheered and inspired me –

Our children’s primary school

As with all others in England, our kids’ school shut their doors to the majority of students at the end of Friday, 20 March, on Government guidance.

Since being notified of this just two days before, the teachers and support staff worked incredibly hard to provide work packs, suggested timetables, and a host of online resources, to help us parents homeschool our children for the foreseeable future.

They’ve also made it clear they will continue to provide new work weekly, and any of them are at the end of the phone or email for any specific help.

Even writing this now I feel quite emotional at the amazing support they’re offering, and how much they’re clearly committed to maintaining their usual high standard of care and education for our children in these strange and uncertain times.

Our daughter’s music teacher

Our daughter plays bass guitar and her teacher has been hugely supportive and encouraging in the time she’s been learning (perhaps nine months) – and indeed identified from her already playing piano in the school band that she might be good at bass, and clearly she is.

He has already set up a plan for online tuition using Zoom, and introduced us to an app for the iPad, Hokusai, for recording music, which on first look is very powerful, yet simple (I’m thinking of using it myself to revisit some of my old music composition interests!).

Our daughter has not recorded music before, so this is an exciting new avenue, and already something additional to the regular in person music classes she’s had.

With the online teaching via Zoom, plus recording and sending her work to her teacher for review in between, it should not only deepen her skills in music, but accelerate her learning, improve the quality of her practice (she can listen back to her recordings of course) and enable her to explore recording further if she wishes too.


Our son’s trampoline club

As you can imagine, trampolining requires major equipment, ie a big trampoline! The gym had to close last Friday too, leaving the dozens of children in the club not knowing when they might trampoline again.

The founder and teachers quickly rallied round, using their What’s App group for ideas from us parents.

From this they decided too that Zoom seems like a great platform for them to provide online teaching.

Whilst they obviously can’t provide trampolines, they are keen to continue to offer regular conditioning classes to keep the children in shape, as well as advice on nutrition, cooking, yoga and more, all of which are extra compared with the core training they usually receive in person.

One of the parents is a PET – Personal Emotional Trainer – and already works with local schools and clubs and has offered her services and experience to any kids who are particularly struggling with losing their in person trampolining sessions – and the social connections and confidence that’s come with it – for the immediate future.

The online Zoom sessions, plus practice on our own trampoline at home (our son has been flipping plenty this weekend) mean hopefully he won’t miss too much trampolining in the coming weeks.

My day job

I work for a local authority, so in times of community crisis like this, people generally look up to organisations like ours to provide leadership, stability and support.

I’ve been impressed at how quickly and pragmatically the management team have responded and communicated.

Their first phase of finding a way forward was to find out which teams and individuals could work from home, maintaining key services, whilst increasing the social distancing we’re all being asked to engage in.

Within this, each manager and team leader was asked to provide the staff who were in most vulnerable categories, either because of their age or underlying medical conditions, and home working kit is to be prioritised for these individuals first.

The next wave of restrictions from the government included closing all schools, so our management team then focused on those employees who had children, and would need to take time off to care for them if there were no other childcare options. Again, equipment for home working – where it’s possible – is to be prioritised for these individuals.

In amongst all of this, a plan is forming agreeing the teams and services that are highest priority for the local community (like housing, benefits, wellbeing, and so on) and staff from less high priority services will be retrained to temporarily help out those services with greater (and increasing) demands.

Again, all of this has impressed me in how people haven’t run around in blind panic, but simply looked at how we need to prioritise, what we can do, and got plans underway.

Photowalks with our kids

Finally, a more personal one.

I have mentioned before that both of our two older children (11 and 7) have cameras (both Canon IXUS digital compacts) and I encourage them to use them as often as I can.

This weekend we went out on a couple of photowalks – the first time I’ve been with both of them at once, and me with the little Lumix XS1.

After reminding them of the two very basic necessities for taking decent pictures that we should all know (but many don’t!), that is, half press the button to lock focus and see the AF rectangle turn green, before pushing it all the way to make the shot, then when you do, hold the camera as steady as possible, it was a joy to see them happily capturing pictures of spring flowers around the village.

To my greater delight they were spotting and photographing things I’ve seen them walk past a dozen times before without a second glance. Which for me is one of the huge benefits of photography – it enhances our ability to see the beauty already around us. Something more vital than ever in current times.

All of these examples I’ve shared from the last two or three days I think are excellent demonstrations of how in times where restrictions are placed on us (quite suddenly, heavily, and dramatically), we humans can rise to the challenge, and find new ways of adapting, creating and thriving.

How about you? What examples have you seen around your way lately of people adapting in inspiring ways? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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9 thoughts on “The Human Instinct – Adapt, Create, Thrive”

  1. Great examples Dan! It’s fantastic that you’re still able to go out and do some photography with your kids. I do that with mine about once a month but unfortunately due to the current situation, we’re unable to get out at all… so indoor photography for us!
    As i mentioned, we’re quite limited but the upside of it is that we have internet so it means there’s no shortage of inspiration to find. And apart from video chats with friends, there’s lots of things that we can do: editing, blogging, reading, watching films, researching, writing etc.

    1. Thanks Yuri. Local walks are possible here as long as we don’t get too close to anyone else. We’re fairly rural too, so it’s not like walking in a town or city.

      I agree with your list, thanks to the internet there’s a huge range of activities and creative outlets available to us, and of course books, DVDs, writing etc can all be done without being online too.

  2. Let your daughter put on some music and play along to it. It really helps get the feel of being in a band.
    As old people, our habits aren’t changing much because we don’t go out a lot anyway. But yesterday our Chris called wanting to come up and work on the cabin while he’s got nothing to do. I have to admit that would definitely qualify as ‘isolation’, but unfortunately you couldn’t get in there even with a bulldozer right now due to the deep hard-packed snow.
    C’est la vie.

    1. Thanks Marc, yes she’s been doing that – music on her iPod touch, then recording on my iPad plugged into a cool little dock her teacher has lent her that lets you record direct from the bass guitar, and using the amp as a monitor to hear what you’re playing as you go.

      I’d like to get her into some interesting layering of bass, but it might be a little ambitious as she’s not been playing that long and hasn’t played anything of her own imagination, just played along with music she knows and has the music notes for.

      Is the snow still coming down, is there more to come? When does spring usually begin round your way?

      1. We have more snow forecast, but it is getting to be lesser amounts and won’t stay as long now. Probably another month of Wintery weather.

  3. Hi Dan, I was heartened to see that Cuba is sending resources to help Italy, that is certainly commendable. Locally I can’t think of any good news. The first person died in our town a few days ago, and there is no testing going on and no tests. Our neighbor is a nurse at the hospital and I worry for him since he has two babies at home. Our town government has responded by closing plain and simple. Bob and I are staying in hoping for the best.

  4. Here rather than actions I see more serenity through acceptance. I was with the broom cleaning the leaves in the door of where I live, when a neighbor was sat in his door about to call somebody through a cellphone (we didn’t got close of course, we were fifteen meters away) and shortly we asked about each other and we said just “tranquil.” Fortunately this means people is not just purchasing by panic and prizes are reasonable in the circumstances. Glad you are supporting both your community and your family : ) (and I should add your virtual community here)

    1. Francis, there are many fascinating aspects to this pandemic, effecting areas we wouldn’t consider in a way most of us have never seen anything like in our lifetimes. Horrendous as it is, if it can help us remember what’s most important (hint – it’s not shopping for new shoes or chasing social media likes), we can take comfort from that and try to build better lives and communities going forward.

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