Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
W. B. Yeats
The centre will hold.
The other day I found myself in traffic and heard the honk of a driver impatient with a pedestrian who was not crossing the street quickly enough for his liking. Suddenly irritated, I thought, are we back to this again?
I can understand the longing to return to life before the Great Interruption and make up for lost time. I’m longing too but I’m not sure I have the emotional bandwidth to jump back into everything all at once. I want to ease in at a pace determined by me. The question is: ease into what and how?
The joy of resuming favourite activities is countered by feelings of unease. What’s that about?
- The fourth wave is now upon us.
- In many ways we’re returning to “normal” without the course correction needed to ensure a better quality of life for all and a healthier planet. Did we miss an opportunity?
- Life has a quality of tentativeness about it. Plans are contingent on X and Y happening and what A and B decide to do at the last minute. Plans never feel firm and change according to the weather, interpretations of COVID rules, and apprehension about the spread of the virus.
- The realization that we’re going to be living with COVID for some time.
Positive changes did come out of COVID. Ways of doing things, once believed unchangeable, were transformed -and quickly! Creative pursuits flourished. People came together who would not have otherwise. We learned the benefits of a simpler life. I loved the small pockets of quiet in the day that expanded into pools making it possible to hear birds sing and notice the finer points of trees. And…now I know what I look like with longer hair. I changed my hair style!
Life is both marvellous and bewildering.
Easing in is stepping with some degree of caution and care and yet resolved to move forward. It’s the tension of wanting to leap out and shelter in place at the same time. Such a period of transition calls on me to expand the familiar circle within which I have lived for the past year and a half and re-acquaint myself with the art of socializing given that hibernating rusted my social and organizing skills.
In many ways, easing in is forging a new life path. It demands my attention to appreciate the marvellous along the way and a willingness to accept and be delightfully surprised at what bewilders.
The large-scale changes that often result from pandemics can have a significant impact on our day to day lives. Some changes happen out of sheer necessity; others because we don’t want to go back to the life we lived before. Perhaps the dissonance and discomfort of this pandemic will prompt us to untangle ourselves from worn-out patterns that leave us uninspired and on autopilot. The pandemic made it glaringly obvious what does not work. Why return to that way of living?
Ultimately, we want to cultivate a rhythm to the day that keeps what works, discards what doesn’t, and invites us to try something new. And so, I ask myself:
What do I want my post pandemic life look like?
What will a post pandemic world look like?
The world feels like a fragile and broken place right now with all that is happening. Will this virus ever go away? It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration and despair. Will the centre hold?
It will. It must! I have three grandchildren on the way- twins in the early fall and a baby in January. I want to welcome them into this world with lots of love, hope, and a conviction that all will be well.
Many people are working to make life better. I can be part of that effort too, if even in a small way. I don’t need to change everything all at once, but I can begin by looking at life through the lens of kindness. Easing in allows us to be gentle with ourselves as we figure out a direction to go.
Hope coupled with action- however small- is the best way through uncertainty, in anticipation of much that is good. I will begin by welcoming our grandchildren into the world and providing some practical help along the way. As Edith Eger said: Hope is the boldest act of imagination. Imagine a post pandemic world built on a foundation of hope and love!
Here are a few of my wishes for a post pandemic world. What are yours?
- Everyone is safe. Everyone feels safe.
- People in the world are guided by kindness, patience, respect, compassion, and tolerance. There’s much to be said for good manners.
- Entitlement plummets. Generosity expands.
- Hand washing is routine.
- Never take anything for granted.
- Notice what was easy to ignore or forget about, before COVID shone a light on what was there all along.
- Women are supported in extricating themselves from the load they have carried in combining work and caring for their families during this pandemic.
- Young people find secure employment. Children go to school. Elderly persons live with dignity and receive the care they need. No one goes hungry. Everyone has a comfortable, affordable home.
- Our capacity for relatedness knows no bounds. We take care of each other and the planet.
- Older women rule the world! We are the “in” generation.
- Everyone does something fun – really fun- at least once a week. Daily would be ideal!
- We all remember to laugh.
We all have longings for how we want life to be. Life is wonderful, messy, and complex. Easing in is my way through it all. Some days it may look like things are falling apart, but appearances don’t tell the whole story. I have hope and optimism for this marvellous and bewildering world of ours.
The centre will hold.