I’ve found my anxiety rising along with the rest of the country as the pandemic has taken hold in the United States. I don’t usually consider myself an overreactive person, but I have found myself in long lines at Costco searching for toilet paper with the rest of the country. I have stuffed my larder, ordered books to read from Amazon and scoured Netflix for binging opportunities. I’ve also found myself lying awake at night perseverating over how to keep my 88 year old mother with a heart condition safe….worrying about my daughter and son in law quarantined in the Seattle virus hot spot…and just generally missing the normalcy of life that has seemed to evaporate as quickly as the virus has spread.
There are moments when I feel that we have all been thrust into an outbreak movie- wondering how we got here and what we as individuals can do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. As I read the newspaper and listen to the news obsessively (a mistake I can’t seem to stop myself from doing), I fear that our political climate has eroded our sense of community. The us and them mentality has become the group less likely to be affected by the virus (the young and healthy) versus the old (when did 60 become elderly?!?) and health compromised. I read comments about why the virus is no big deal because most people won’t get seriously sick…with no apparent concern for infecting others who share their community. When did we start separating ourselves from our neighbors by skin color, education, career, socio economic status…age and health?
Yes, the news is dire and people are scared, but can’t we be scared together? Can’t we share our resources, our information and our fears? Can’t we check on our neighbors even as we keep our six foot distance? I am hopeful that something good will come out of this situation, that people’s humanity will rise above the chaos, and we will emerge from this national emergency stronger and more unified.
In the meantime, I am focusing on the lessons that are being presented in the face of the virus danger:
Living in the Moment
It is easier to live in the now when news is changing rapidly. It is a reminder to live in
the present. We may not know what the next week, day or hour holds, but we can
embrace this moment. Right now, all is well.
It is hard to have patience when you don’t know what the next news cycle will bring to
our door. But, sometimes, you have to just trust that you will be able to handle whatever
comes. You learn to have trust in yourself and your ability to handle what comes next.
Understanding what is in our control
As a controlling personality, this is a hard lesson that I am confronted with in many areas of my life. I need to focus on the serenity prayer and accept what I cannot change.
There are certain things you always have control over, even if it is just your reaction.
Focusing on what’s important
This is the most important lesson of all. The lesson that we all cling to whenever there is a crisis that presents itself. Whenever life presents a serious diagnosis, heartbreak, or an unknown virus all of our small annoyances with life and people disappear, and we cling to those we love. We forget our minor spats, forgive the past and breathe in gratitude that we have friends and family that stand by us in good times and bad.
I hope that I am able to hold onto these lessons in the future, when hopefully life returns to a semblance of normalcy. I am fearful of the pandemic and yet, deeply grateful for how the crisis has clarified what is important in my life.