Getting What We Need When We Can’t “Get” Anywhere.

May 24, 2020

Getting What We Need When We Can’t “Get” Anywhere.

May 29, 2023

Three things have helped me get through this crisis so far – healthy food, music, and human connections. Food is obvious for survival, but with a little creativity on my part and support for my favorite local establishments, it’s also been a way to feel a bit more like my normal self.

Music sets my mood, keeps me moving, fills me with ideas, and enables me to express myself. While I miss tapping into the energy of live performances, recordings and webcasts come pretty close to meeting my emotional and spiritual needs.

Human connections have been the most debilitating deficit these past eight weeks. I am lucky enough to have a partner at home, but everyone else has taken the form of a two-dimensional projection, lacking the warmth and real-time feedback that nourishes me. It’s been documented how damaging this substitute for reality can be to our physical and emotional health.

When I think about these lost human connections, I grieve for hospitality. A wise and generous elder I know defines the essence of hospitality as a “generosity of spirit from the heart.” It satisfies human needs for comfort, connections, entertainment, and self-expression. But right now, it is at serious risk.

At a time when the net worth of hospitality as a business is in serious decline, its value to the world is more important than ever. The human ethos of hospitality is not only timeless, it is essential. We have the opportunity to bring the ethos of hospitality to people everywhere, even if the actual service experience remains a somewhat distant future prospect.

So, how can we support an industry that has done so much to support us? Can it be helpful and healing to society? Is hospitality exportable? Couldn’t hospitals use more hospitality? Can it be translated beyond the walls of a building?

I believe it can. The essential qualities of hospitality can reach us all where we are. Like the generosity of neighbors and coworkers in the form of drive-by birthday parties and grocery drop-offs, the soft power of hospitality exists within human generosity. It fulfills our essential need to be recognized, to be seen, to be felt and affirmed. I am inspired to think about how hospitality’s most human experiences can be made real, connections renewed, and warmth spread. The generosity of spirit from the heart can live within us, until the day we can physically inhabit it again.

Ken Pasternak is an MEA alum and President and Chief Strategy Officer or Two by Four, a strategy and creative agency in Chicago and San Francisco. kpasternak@twoxfour.com

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