I had an epiphany on the weekend. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing, but I think I had just read something sad. Something sad and completely unrelated to Coronavirus. It was one of those moments where life sort of zooms out and then back in again, only afterwards it all feels a little different. Or at least I felt a little different.
At that moment, I realised that life is still going on. I know that maybe sounds really obvious, but to me it felt kind of shocking. This isn’t a pause between two sections of normal life, this is just part of how life sometimes throws a whole series of curve balls at you and doesn’t really care if you’re catching them or dropping each one.
This isn’t a pause in real life. This isn’t what happens after the end of the world. This is just life and I can’t keep waiting and wondering when it will stop feeling beyond my control.
The truth is that it is beyond my control. The weather, the spread of disease, the impending economic collapse are all things that I can watch, read about and analyse, but not control. The only thing I can control is my own actions and reactions to all of the moments that make up my day.
It’s time to swim up to the surface, take a deep breath and start to take a little more control of what I am doing and how I am thinking. I need to find a different perspective. A perspective where it isn’t me fighting against reality (it’s one thing to be the underdog, but I think reality is a sure bet). A perspective where I take into account not how I want the world to be, but the good I can find in what is actually here.
Let’s face it, humans have been the dominant animal on this planet for a long time and it has allowed us to forget that the world doesn’t play by our rules. Life isn’t fair for the 23.7 billion chickens that live in the world. It isn’t fair for the pangolins that we are trafficking out of existence. But, we expect life to be fair for us (especially those of us who are living with a healthy dose of privilege.)
The thing is, sometime in the last couple months, normal disappeared and now I have to make the best of life as it is, because if I don’t, I’m the one who misses out. By wishing and pining for things to be a different way, I am missing out on life that is happening right now.
The other reality is that it isn’t just me that is missing out. As long as I’m stuck, I’m keeping my kids stuck with me. They need me to help them find their way to some kind of new normal, some kind of new place where we can all see more than what we’ve lost.
If ever there was a time to start savouring little pleasures and victories in life, that time is now.
I’m not talking about going into denial. I’m fully acknowledging that this is a hard time to be navigating. It’s hard, but it isn’t all bad. There is still a lot of beauty in life, life is still a gift that I don’t want to take for granted.
We can eat delectable desserts together (cookies, cakes, ding-a-lings) and take the time to actively enjoy it. Wallow in the sweetness, take turns describing the explosion of flavours that are happening inside our mouths.
Maybe talking about all our cats. They are adorable and cuddly, full of unanticipated humour and sudden fits of the zoomies. Watching a show that we all enjoy and then reliving the funny parts together. We can talk about what it would be like if we didn’t have a computer to watch (or if there were no phones where we could play Pokemon Go and Battle Cats). We need to savour what we have, find those seeds of gratitude and water them.
Not because things aren’t hard, not because we need to pretend that everything is great.
But, because it is the only thing that is going to help make this time better. The only thing that is going to make life better for us is focusing on the better parts of life.
I don’t want to mislead you, realising that I want to shift my perspective has not brought me any miracles. I still miss my old daily routine, my friends, my students, my coworkers, my kids’ activities, going out for dinner. All of the little things that used to make up my world still tug at my heart like an ache and I feel like if I reach for them hard enough, maybe, just maybe they’ll come back.
Except they won't.
Instead it is time to start to build a new routine, find new ways to connect with my friends, my students, my coworkers, have different adventures with my kids and special dinners at home. My heart needs to open to finding the silver lining and using it to beat back the clouds.
Or maybe I need to come to appreciate the clouds, what would be life without puddles and rainbows?