If there’s one thing we all know, here in May of 2020, it is that the future is more uncertain than ever. A funny little virus with spikes on its belly has infected the world, overwhelmed our hospitals, and thumbed its nose at our efforts to send it away. Life as we know it has changed. We sequester in place, using time in untimely ways. The rush to sports practices and music lessons, to grocery stores and fast-food restaurants has boiled away. We stare from behind masks, peek through windows as nature turns toward spring, and wonder what comes next. I don’t pretend to have an answer to the now-existential question of our time, but I know how to ask it. How can I survive and thrive within the uncertainty that surrounds me? No one answer fits all questions. Here are the pillars that sustain me.
FAITH: Many find solace in their churches and their faith. Prayers are offered up or extended to those who are in need of them, many crafted from the raw anxieties and needs of this confrontation with mortality. Religious faith may indeed serve as a comfort throughout this period. I find it helpful when expressed by those who have displayed consistent belief throughout the years. I find it less helpful when claimed as a panacea for all that threatens us in contradiction to the advice and admonitions of the scientists and medical professionals.
FAMILY: For most of us, family is the bedrock that sustains our actions during this pandemic. The knowledge of my family’s love and concern makes me want to do everything I can to protect them and to preserve myself for them. During this pandemic, the connection I have is personal. My mother is a victim of the covid-19 attack. The nursing home where she resided did their best to care for her, but sometimes even our best is not enough to stop a predator.
TECHNOLOGY: Amidst all the horrors of this uncertain time, I am grateful for the technical advances that allow us to connect virtually with family, friends, co-workers, and fellow writers. Where in past times we might have faced this event in more severe isolation, we now have the opportunity to reach others no matter how far away they are. Seeing beloved faces and hearing familiar voices reminds us that we are not alone.
ART: By art, I mean all the ways in which we create — from keeping a coronavirus diary to sending photos of paintings to offering ballet classes to selling handiwork over the Internet, from singing to playing music to recording the spoken words of those who inspire us. Like desert plants that bloom only in the rain, we grow and flower in creative ways through the most tempestuous of times.
NATURE: One of the ways I survive and thrive is through my connection with the natural world. As our forced isolation curtails our driving, the air clears, the waters run clean, animals return to lost habitats. The earth sends a visual of renewal, chiding us to consider more carefully how we might live. If we are strong enough and smart enough to heed the message, we have a window of opportunity to remake our society into one that nurtures all peoples and all places. This is how we survive and thrive, by opening out eyes and ears to the song of re-creation being sung to us during this ‘time-out’ moment.
HOPE: Of all our human traits, perhaps it is hope which carries us forward through the darkest times. It is hope that propels us into the unknown and fuels our dreams.
LOVE. The more we love, the more we increase our capacity to love. The heart expands in direct proportion to the number of people we choose to include. Enough said.