In the mid 1800’s, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the co-founder of the Transcendentalist movement, wrote in his essay CIRCLES:
“People wish to be settled; only as they are unsettled, is there any hope for them.”
Life is full of unexpected circumstances. And for some people, they find the unpredictability of life so daunting that they resort to substance abuse, putting off indefinitely their ability to mount an effective response to “what is” as well as their inherent untapped ability to create “what might be.”
From the moment we’re born, as soon as we’re able, we try to control life’s variables. And in some ways, we are in truth, safer than we once were. Smallpox, Malaria, Polio, Tetanus, once the scourge of even royalty, have all been banished in developed countries through medical progress.
But as John Lennon wrote (paraphrased): “Life happens while we’re busy making other plans.”
Farmers do everything in their power to produce a robust and abundant crop only to have a hail storm destroy months of hard work and considerable expense — another reason our local farmers absolutely deserve our support — they toil in a high-risk endeavor. A young man is engaged to be married and always careful not to drink and drive but one day an animal darts in front of his car and tragically he leaves behind an anguished fiancée. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, forest fires that rage on to claim hundreds of homes — the list goes on.
And as if all that wasn’t enough to challenge humankind, now we have a pandemic on our hands and a virus that keeps dumbfounding even the best minds in its ability to proliferate.
Faced with all these challenges, how can we personally mount an effective response? To begin to address all that is on our plate at this extraordinary moment in time, start small:
Get more rest! This is urgently important to improve not just your immune system’s response to what you might be exposed to but to improve your overall judgment when faced with rapidly changing conditions concerning public health that impact us all in our everyday life.
Get out in nature. Recently, we’ve been running more articles on hiking and biking as relatively safe ways to relieve stress and improve health. A simple walk around the block to admire flowers in your neighborhood also provides a measure of relaxation.
Bring flowers into your home. Whether cut from your garden, purchased at a supermarket, or from a florist, flowers create a visual oasis — when viewed often with appreciation, they can even provide a brief meditation.
Pay attention to what pleases you. If your income hasn’t been much affected during this pandemic, indulge yourself a bit more (and don’t take that privilege for granted or you’re just wasting money.) Buy a pricier bottle of wine, plan a nice meal around it, and savor it. If you’re temporarily strapped for cash, do something new for yourself even if it’s to get a new beer mug or a great shirt at a thrift shop — something pleasing and “new to you.” You can also visit the Little Library boxes in your town and bring a book to trade.
At times of heightened and long-lasting stress, we need to take the best possible care of ourselves. This enables us to enhance our reserves of personal replenishment from which to give to our family, to our friends, and to our community. And it serves to remind us that in the midst of our country dealing with some very serious issues, that within our own “arena of influence” we still have some control. In fact, we have more capability than we thought we did to create a better quality of life for ourselves and for those whom we love. And that’s an effective response!
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