COVID-19 Could Be a Catalyst

COVID-19 COULD BE A CATALYST - mindful stretching

Think Bigger.

This is a sort of mantra for this community, a guiding principle for life, creativity, business, and problem solving. It means thinking bigger in terms of what we expect from products (design quality & depth of concept), in what we expect of other people, and in what we’re able to do with our time and passion. In who we can be. In what we can make. In what’s possible.

“Bigger” is subjective. The “bigger” you aspire to is different than everyone else’s. The maxim works because it’s about choosing to find more in life in a way that’s specifically personal.

This is a unique time. Many of us are out of work—we certainly know people who are—and the world around us feels different than it did a few weeks ago. Things are slowing to a crawl. We’re all impacted.

How do we think bigger in all this? Not in a global, humanitarian, or health & wellness sense—though we should all be reflecting in those ways too—but strictly in terms of what this community builds itself around: creativity, passion, and meaningfulness in those things. What does thinking bigger mean in a moment when we’re more disconnected and have more free time than we’re accustomed to?

“Time,” generally speaking, is our most valuable asset, “free time,” perhaps being the rarest of its forms. The present proliferation of articles on how to “kill” it is emblematic of how shallowly society views our lives.

To kill time is to kill your aspirations.

We choose not to see our lives that way. Let us instead find opportunity, do something, think bigger. This is a different season, let’s do something different with it. We are each able to define this moment for ourselves. Let’s use it for more than the Ultimate Streaming Marathon and melodramatic idleness.

Let’s unleash our creative selves. Make the things we’ve always wanted to make. Start what we’ve long wanted to start.

We can choose to make COVID-19—or rather, the social distancing, stay at home, life-on-hold world it has created—a catalyst for something in us that we’ve never found the time to prioritize.

What are the things we want to tell ourselves, about ourselves, that we’ve never quite felt justified in saying because we’ve never prioritized them?

“I am a writer.”
“I am a photographer.”
“I am a designer.”
“I am an artisan.”
“I am a chef.”
“I am an entrepreneur.”

These are things many of us feel, but to say them out loud feels fraudulent, as though our most authentic forms have never been fully born into the world.

Let’s stop denying ourselves. We are those things at heart. We can be them in the world. The lie is in keeping them suppressed—enough of that. Let’s claim these statements and make them tangible.

Life—if we choose to see it this way—is telling us to take a step back. To remove ourselves from the hurried flow, to slow down, to spend time with our thoughts. The moment is telling us to reflect. It’s telling us all the things we’ve been telling ourselves for years; all that “mindfulness” guru stuff we know would improve our lives, but we never find time for.

Many of us now have the time. Will we seize it?

We have the chance to lean into this moment—when things are still—and reset. To actually disconnect, to rest in ways that bring real restoration and growth, and then use this time to bring genuine value into our lives. We can bring fresh light, passion, and life into a world that increasingly needs those things.

What will we remember of these times upon reflection? We could just let life happen to us; we could allow this moment to be about hardship, disruption, or frustration. About toilet paper. About maximum media consumption.

But let’s not.

Instead, we can think bigger and make this an opportunity. We can insist that when looking back, the financial burdens and the anxieties will have faded (as they almost always do, into a sort of fog in the background), and what we remember is a singular time where the world paused itself, and we did something with it. 

Read more about creativity: “Make something awesome. Your creation, even if it’s small, could inspire someone else to activate their potential.” – The Creation of Mimics


Let’s build a moment in which we spend our time more meaningfully, do the things we usually haven’t time or energy for, start (or finish) projects we’ve been thinking about for years. A moment in which we let our passions come alive and see to it that, when when the world returns to something-like-normal, our creative lives are never quite the same—they have grown into what we’ve always wanted them to be.

“Make the most of this time!” say articles like, “Streaming Services with 30-Day Trials,” and, “All the Movies Coming Early Because of Corona.”

We should make the most of this time, but let’s do it our way. Let’s each make our own list: “Things I’ve Always Felt I Should Be Doing.”

Then let’s pick something – and start.

Showing 11 comments
  • Lacey j.

    Wow. Can we make this into a video?

    • Theresa Potratz

      I like this idea. We can cobble a whole thing together from basements.

  • A.J. Plank

    Giving me chills Tom.

    Only thing I’d add is that besides (the excuse of) not having the time, many of us are afraid to take that next step in chasing the better version of ourselves, afraid to reveal our true inner-nature, to be vulnerable, to fail. In light of current very real circumstances, a fear of simple self expression seems so… out of perspective. This is a good time for reflection, and for new beginnings, sure, but also a good time for gaining perspective on being afraid. Maybe all things considered, chasing our dreams isn’t the scariest thing we could face after all?

    • Tom Mattson

      Very insightful words A.J.. Isn’t it amazing, the barriers we put before ourselves, and the ways we let others define our experiences for us instead of deciding for ourselves what we’re going to do with what the world gives us? Really appreciate being here amongst minds and hearts such as yours.

  • Josh Graber

    This is simply amazing. I needed this. Thank you. Every time I thought the article would end, it kept going and I had to read it aloud because every sentence was impactful. Let’s redefine our culture and our lives. Keep being awesome.

    • Tom Mattson

      We’re swooning over here Josh. Thank you for being you.

  • John Hatricks

    *************** a huge asterisk on everything stated here.

    “If you are not directly affected by COVID-19” or “I am not in the healthcare industry”

    Huge asterisk, lots of them, put them all over the place.

    While it’s possible you are in one of those categories, you soon won’t be.

    So remember that when you wax philosophical about how much good can come from this. We do not need a humanitarian disaster to remind us to have balance in our life and to pursue things that we enjoy. Do we? Is that what it takes for you…..for other people to die?

    Sounds like a white middle-upper class issue tbh. It’s nice to have that luxury.*

    • Tom Mattson

      Hey John,

      I really appreciate your taking the time to share your response to this; the things you say here are important.

      Because this is a blog about creativity and pop-culture, the scope of articles here tends not to go beyond those things. Much in the way blogs about physical fitness are likely still posting about physical fitness. You’re completely, utterly, absolutely, right that the importance of these thoughts pale in comparison to life and death issues.

      At this point, I’m pretty sure everyone (including all of us at O-Neb) have been affected by this harrowing time in one way or another. Lost work, sick or passed loved ones, the anxiety and pressures of a job on the front lines—these are serious times.

      When I wrote this, there was a part of me that felt, “this seems so small in the broader context of everything that’s happening.” But then I decided that the world needs all the positivity it can get right now. Even if about something that’s ultimately trivial in the big scheme. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that no matter who we are, no matter what our circumstances, we control how we respond to the world and the way in which we approach our time in it. Little things can matter.

      Hopefully—insofar as it can—this little piece about creativity brought some light into people’s lives. That, anyway, was the intent. Nothing but love over here my friend. Grateful to be in community with you.

  • Chandler

    Bravo friend. Well worded.
    We will either spiral backward with the impact of this and let it cause personal crisis -> or use the magnitude of the impact drive forward momentum, into the new world that will left in the wake of this world-wide scale change.

  • Preston

    Wow, love this. It channels some self-help ideology which is great. But its also Truth. When I backed Unsettled one of the reasons was because I actually liked the lack of violence in the game for a change. I was in the midst of studying the philosophy of Aikido and Unsettled felt like a good direction to go in. This blog post just solidifies my decision and makes me feel confident I made the right decision. Thank you for the reset and and reminder to always do better Tom!

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