I grew up in an era of certainty. Graduate from high school, and college (if affordable), get a good job, get married, have kids, relax into retirement, and live happily ever after. With the exception of heart attack, cancer or stroke, which we didn’t plan, but were not unheard of, we pretty much controlled our own destiny.
Enter Covid-19, an outside enemy who didn’t care about our plans; and who struck without warning, sparing no cultural group and ultimately, no age group. At any moment, we could breathe in the little covid monsters, end up on a ventilator, and perhaps die without warning.
We listened to the experts, wore masks, stayed away from crowds, stopped traveling, and the only restaurants we frequented had outdoor seating. We followed the experts who, themselves were caught up in a learning curve, so their advice shifted from time to time. All this added up to something we were unprepared for: uncertainty.
Can we attend family weddings? Is it safe to go to Grandpa’s funeral? Is it even okay to hug and kiss our nieces and nephews?
We vaccinate to save our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, but how safe are we with breakthroughs overriding vaccinations, not to mention new strains? As the pandemic has lingered, I notice that Zoom visits with friends have shifted. What used to be an interchange of the good things in our lives, now focuses on long drawn-out descriptions of physical complaints, followed by the doom of covid or politics.
This level of uncertainty is new, but many of us are descendants of people who lived through, and survived uncertainty, be it the slave ships, the Holocaust, or abject poverty in their homelands that they fled.
I’ve made a choice not to obsess about uncertainty. My first prayer for the day, is:
“God, give me something for which to be joyful today.”
Then I make it my business to go looking for that something throughout the day. I’ve limited my daily news watching to one half hour, enough to keep me informed, but not enough to feed agitation and hopelessness. And I’ve switched away from the cable news programs that focus more on editorial commentary. My local channel gives me the facts, and I form my own commentary.
I make sure to go outside every day. Luckily, living in in a warm locale with enough open space, I have plenty of safe unmasked time. I have found socially distancing exercise classes, keeping my endorphins flowing, along with much-needed human contact within the six-foot boundaries of safety.
In the past, I was always one for planning ahead, for setting goals, and striving. I may not be able to predict the future, but if I live fully in the present day, I can move more confidently in the changing world around me. My mantra:
“I am open and receptive for all that I need to know today.”
I’m delving into the calming effects of Yoga breath work, and neuroscience techniques of bringing calmness to the brain.
I wrap myself in the comfort of the familiar, as I find stability in the routines that I now define as rituals: morning prayer/meditation, household chores –nurturing my home; making a ceremony out of mealtime—either in a restaurant or at home; family visits electronically, or in person when possible.
I look back on my ancestors who endured uncertainty, and call forth the strength in my DNA, embracing uncertainty with hope.