There is an upside in all this. There is always an upside.
Call it lemonade (from lemons). Call it accepting the unacceptable. Call it gratitude. It doesn’t matter what you call it; the trick is in recognizing there is an upside. And knowing there are generally quite a few.
More time to spend with family? Projects getting done? More time outside? Simply time to have time?
Thoreau’s Walden Pond and May Sarton’s Journal of Solitude notwithstanding, we are social beings, evolving over the eons dependent upon one another for sustenance and safety.
We have our solitude. A sense of certainty that at least we are doing our part. For me there has been another gift:
the opportunity to practice
SITTING IN THE UNKNOWN
Once upon a time, “not knowing” freaked me out. I was supposed to know, you know. I was supposed to have it figured out. Not knowing, if I even acknowledged it, was scary.
Did you see that Twitter image that floated around a month or so ago? Here is how it began:
Ignoring for a moment who wrote it, can you feel the anguish? The intensity? The fear?
I imagine many who read this accepted that this was a perfectly legitimate demand. Everyone feels safer with information. Information, some say, is power.
How easy it is to fall into the expectation that we should know. That we can always know. Laura Ingraham capitalized on that human need in her tweet. And she capitalized on the fear that goes with it.
Some called her on it. That’s the American way. It’s what free speech is all about. People are free to say stupid, ignorant things because other people are equally free to call them out.
Here are two I liked:
And so it is in the midst of this pandemic. There is so much we do not know.
Cognitively, I learned two decades ago that I really don’t have to know. And since then I’ve been able to catch myself when I fall into that old trap. But because I get to practice this every day, I’m getting quite good at owning the fact that I just don’t know.
This realization is becoming an integral part of me, not simply a factoid I recall when it suits. Not knowing has become as much a part of this new normal as putting on my mask when someone comes to the door.
I don’t really know whether I should go to the grocery store myself (with excellent three-layered mask) or whether I should use the curb side service they offer. Choices are much more limited with curb side service.
What about my mail? We don’t get USPS here at the house; we’re too rural. We have a PO Box in town. Do I go to the post office myself or avail myself of the home delivery that’s offered for those in the “high risk” population? I do not know.
Am I really “high risk?” I don’t feel high risk; I don’t feel old, or elderly. Age is just a number, yadda, yadda, yadda. Asking one of the young ones to bring me my mail just feels wrong. Am I being naive? Am I bargaining again? I simply don’t know.
I also don’t know whether Woody and I really need to wash our hands every time we touch something. It’s just us in the house. Surely any coronavirus hitchhikers that may have snuck in have long since died. They say it can only live out side the host for two hours, or 15, depending on the material and on who’s talking. Again, I do not know.
Some days I wash them religiously. Some days I wash them sporadically. I don’t know.
Some people fill that not-knowing void with explanations (no matter how valid).
And there was a time in my life when I’d have wanted a checklist to work off of: a coronavirus “to do” list of absolutes. I now know how irrelevant that would be. How futile.
I have become more familiar with, more accepting of, not knowing than I have ever been: familiar with my human frailty, familiar with floating ungrounded. That’s OK. I’m getting quite good at it, thanks to CoViD’s deadly potential. I don’t need to figure it out.
I feel myself embracing this not knowing, not just recognizing I don’t need to know. Certainly expectations are a set up. Today, what I know is that I’ll want to eat, I’ll try to get in some exercise, and I’ll need to tend my chickens. Tomorrow I’ll do those same three things, plus I’ll see a few clients over the Internet. That’s the plan at least.
I try to start each day with a few belly breaths and, of course, I end my day identifying a few new gratitudes. Today I am grateful for the chance to practice not knowing.
Life will unfold as it unfolds, whether I’m expecting it or not. I trust in that. And all will be well, in the end, no matter what unfolds.
How about you? What don’t you know? How are you dealing with not knowing?