For a full year now, we’ve been learning to live life out of the ordinary. Life unpredictable, unforeseeable, unexpected. Life iffy, unlooked for, out of left field, not in the cards, subject to change, can’t-count-on-it life.
At all levels of life–personal, familial, local, national, global–we no longer know what’s normal. COVID-19 (with its many and fast-mutating variants) is pushing each of us, all of us, to our personal limits. Climate change is upon us now: This year’s arctic weather has been a season-long challenge, and when summer arrives, extreme heat and hurricanes and fires will challenge us, too. Our basic life-support systems–electrical power, water, fuel–are controlled by politicians who value their abstract ideologies more than the daily needs of the people they’re responsible for. And the democracy that seemed so solid is now revealed for what it is: easily broken, sadly corruptible, as fragile and as ephemeral as the icycles hanging off the roof.
Here in Texas, our five-day power disruption and its many fallouts are requiring all of us to think how extraordinary our lives have become. Yet we go on, don’t we? We do what has to be done to keep warm, feed our families, keep the kids focused on school, help the neighbors, contribute a little extra (time, money, effort) where we can. We need to give ourselves credit for holding things together.
And then there are the uncounted quiet heros who are managing all that–as well as getting up every morning to do the jobs that have to be done to hold us all together: the nursing home staff, grocery clerks, delivery truck drivers, teachers, plumbers and electricians, nurses and doctors, computer technicians, and more, many more.
So whatever else you’re doing this coming week, please take a few minutes every day to count the many ways you’ve learned to cope in these uncertain times. And then to thank the people who are enabling you to do what has to be done. When the going gets rough, they’re the ones who keep us going.
Not to make loss beautiful,
But to make loss the place
Where beauty starts. Where
the heart understands
For the first time
The nature of its journey. . .
(“Not to Make Loss Beautiful, by Gregory Orr. Read the full poem here.)