It’s election week. By the time this posts, I don’t know what will be the fate of America for the next four years. Maybe we won’t even know by the weekend.
Nothing seems right to write about now. I feel suspended in time, as though I’m holding my breath. I know I’m not alone. The days are growing darker by the minute as we descend towards the winter solstice, and the outlook for our country and world seems ever darker by the day as well. Meanwhile, people and families across the country are suffering.
The pandemic continues to force its hand on our lives, insisting we all slow down and stay inside. While I have a certain notion of a utopian future I’d love to experience, I sense we’re quite far off from realizing that reality, if we do at all. Plus, I’ve become quite skeptical of those peddling messianic narratives. Whether it be Jesus or aliens, ain’t nobody gon’ save us but ourselves.
The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States and in Europe and the UK makes me cringe. I watch as other countries begin re-enforcing “stringent movement restrictions,” and it makes me wonder about what’s next for us. The U.S. may or may not revert to lockdowns again but I know one thing for sure – I’m imposing my own nonetheless.
I now live with six other people. Two of which fall into the high-risk category. And I don’t think I could live with myself knowing my reckless behavior led to their catching the virus. Especially since my work already places me at high-risk of exposure. I’ve been sitting with this “new” reality for the last several days.
I know it’s not new, technically. It’s been the reality all the while but the lower number of cases in August and September led me to feel hopeful that maybe we’d found a middle ground. A place where as a city and a state we’d balanced precautions (restricted movement) with some healthy interactions and outings. At least enough to keep the case numbers at a manageable rate. But since cases started rising in October, those dreams have come to an end.
The low case numbers and my denial about how long the pandemic would last had me happily believing I could find some semblance of normal amidst it all. But it seems that even the small semblance I garnered is up for re-evaluation and re-consideration.
Now nationwide cases are skyrocketing. I’m left with the moral and ethical dilemma of deciding for myself what level of risk I’m willing to take or not. I’m completely re-evaluating where I’m at on the COVID-19 precautions spectrum. Less out of concern for myself and more out of concern for the well-being of those around me.
So, I’m asking myself what will the months and year ahead look like for me amidst such a persistent pandemic? What can I do to get my mind right and to get my head in the game, so to speak? How can I best respond to these times? What is the bounty and how do I harvest it? What’s the way forward?
My primary reason for re-evaluating my pandemic response is to help myself feel better. I don’t know about you but all this change this year has me feeling blue. And while a certain level of grief is expected and certainly normal, I see some habits forming where I’m hyper-focused on the negative, the things that don’t feel so good.
Like continually expecting things to be different than how they are. It’s making me feel poorly. And, quite frankly, it’s not necessary.
There’s a level of self-responsibility here that I’m subverting. If I own up to my full responsibility for my own well-being and I’m honest with myself, then I see that there are ways in which I can help myself be happier and healthier overall, despite the difficult circumstances of our time.
Part of that process is setting realistic expectations for myself. This includes realizing that it’s probably a tad idealistic to think I’ll be returning to any “normal” social activities or travel any time soon. Which, in all honesty, is depressing because I’d really love to go out to listen to music, dance, and be out on the town.
My new set of expectations for the next months to year helps me get my mind right. Now I know what to expect, and, even though it’s sad, I can at least plan accordingly and not feel let down when yet another weekend passes by with no fun outing. Plus, I can now focus on the aforementioned questions to discover what fruits this time could bear for me.
Resilience. That’s the word that comes to mind. These self-reflective practices help me to feel resilient during these difficult times. And I need all the help I can get. What about you?
As we face the challenges of the coming winter, how are you helping yourself to be more resilient than ever before? What actions are you taking? What questions are you asking yourself? How are you helping yourself to be healthier in mind, body, and spirit than ever before?
Despite the difficulties, we all deserve to be happy and well. May you be blessed with courage and resilience and happiness and joy as we collectively traverse these troubled waters.