A friend said to me recently, “It feels like there is nothing to look forward to”. He was referring to Lockdown and the limitations that it imposes upon his normal life, the constraints on his ability to move around freely, where his options are being sorely compromised by the realities of dealing with this pandemic. No longer can he just go online, cherry pick from a wide selection of wonderful and exciting destinations, and then make his travel plans accordingly. My frequent-flying and adventure seeking friend is in the same boat as the rest of us: his plans are on hold while bigger things are busy running their course. “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I don’t know how he is doing right now, I have no idea how he has adapted to the situation that most of us find ourselves in- dealing with the shock of enforced change, rebuilding aspects of our lives where necessary, and just generally trying to rise to the challenges of navigating this strange and scary new space. Maybe he is waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’, where he can book his flight online and then hop on a plane to fly off somewhere different for a while. For now he will have to continue to wait. We ALL have to wait. But waiting can be painful, and frustrating, and even spirit- crushing. Waiting for change, for that desired outcome or result, is difficult. It can lead us to feel powerless and helpless and anxious. Thank goodness there is a choice. It’s called “Wanting what you already have.” Ok, so it doesn’t replace the satisfaction, the sense of achievement and the thrill of getting that thing that you’ve been coveting and working towards for so long, but never underestimate the power of the little things. The things that are already part of your life, the things that you may forget to notice, are sometimes easily overlooked and taken for granted because the big stuff, the stuff of dreams, just seems so much more exciting.
I enjoy collecting quotes: those handy and comforting adages that can offer cheer and relief when things don’t make sense, when the world doesn’t make sense- when you can’t help wondering, despite the wisdom of your years that has taught you that the world does Not have a personal vendetta against you or anyone else, why bad things happen to good people. Even today I received a Whatsapp message from a younger relative, and in my response to him I found myself typing ‘This too Shall Pass.’ Sometimes (usually in fact) there just are no perfect or fully satisfying answers in life, and we find ourselves with more questions than answers, and that kind of waiting period where we try to fix or at least to ‘adapt’ to a difficult situation, only to find ourselves dealing with the next crisis or a different challenge soon after! And we rise to the challenge once again, and sometimes life feels like just a series of events that asks (almost) more of us than we have to give.
Nevertheless, he seemed to appreciate my ‘This too shall pass’ comment, responding with a smiley face 🙂 and hearts ♥♥♥, so I’m glad I could help. Continue reading
I’ve just finished reading Anne Lamott’s ‘Bird by Bird’, (which isn’t about birds!) It’s quite hilarious at times and rich in warmth and down-to-earth wisdom. At one point there is an account of her visit to a priest because she is feeling chaotic and vulnerable in her writing. She talks about the unpredictable nature of being a writer, of working in a space where you can go from success to failure in the blink of an eye, or the turn of a page. She feels thrown by the fickle way the world responds, by never knowing how a piece will be received, wanting the positive response (of course) but not knowing what she will get, from one book or essay to the next. The priest agrees that she is in need of some peace and quiet and reflects on her search for serenity amidst all the chaos that she feels. Abbreviated, he responds as follows: “The world can’t give you that serenity. The world can’t give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts … But the good news is that by the same token, the world can’t take it away.” Continue reading