I almost forgot how to make goals, back in April. I mean, if I hadn’t already ripped that pre-pandemic to-do list into itty-bitty pieces and mooshed it up in the trash can under wet coffee grounds, it might be laughable.
In a holding pattern
If I learned nothing else from the COVID19 tracker I played with, until I grew bored watching my lackadaisical moods swirl in a little heart like a dull lava lamp or a stopped up bathroom drain, it’s that my moods - with everything put on indefinite hold - could flatline. I started to Google things like “loss of affect,” and let me tell you, folks, you don’t want to go down that rabbit hole! But what would you call lack of hope and optimism without a corresponding depression?
Land or Fly?
What happens when you get everything your little introverted heart desires? Solitude! A fantastic excuse not to socialize! How the heck could I not be eyeballs deep in absolute, unbridled joy? Of course, the answer was clear as craft ice: the joy to be found in any situation depends on its being a choice.
Crash and Burn
But then, for some of us, joy is so easily dampened by tragedy, hardship, hatred, and bigotry in the world - we let strangers’ burdens feel like our burdens - we want everyone on the planet to be happy, or we refuse to be. As if our unhappiness could somehow bring relief to the suffering.
Empathy, or hubris?
You know what brings relief to the suffering?
Not adding to other people’s suffering, for one thing. Not losing your temper with workers who are trying to keep customers - all customers - safe during a pandemic by enforcing mask and physical distancing guidelines. Donating money to disaster relief or volunteering your time and talents to alleviate others’ suffering. Donating directly to local and national political candidates we believe in - and have good reason to believe in - then committing to vote for them in the next election. Paying attention and acting in accordance with our core values.
Spending less time on the snarky parts of the Internet, lest they consume us and make us snarky. Showing and telling the people we love that we love and appreciate them, and maybe doing it by mail to help support the postal service.
Making sure to wear a mask to protect others, and making a point to smile in a way that it reaches our eyes, so others know we mean it. No one of us, alone, can save the world nor do we have to try - we just have to brighten one little corner of it, every day.
I found this secular version of the serenity prayer - adapt it as you see fit, but I think it helps in times of uncertainty or stress, when it sometimes feels as if we’re caught between the light of living and the darkness of dying:
May I find the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Put the Pieces Back Together
So. New reality - new choices. Wallow until you can fish the old goals and plans out of the coffee grounds and glue them back together? That could be a while. No one wanted to believe me, back in March, when I was estimating 16-18 months, but I still think that was optimistic. So what’s the alternative? Make the most of today. Carpe diem.
My OneWord365 was “observant.” The world is too big, too complex, too overwhelming to try to observe it all at once. Even a single snowflake is amazingly complex, if you think about it. If you can’t get out, focus on what’s right there in front of you. It might just amaze you.
Now, I’m off to catch up on some of this week’s goals, now that I’m back to making any! I’ve joined StoryADay.org (I’m already three days behind, but the day is young!) and there’s the weekly Reedsy Contest - I have committed to enter this again, either this week or next.
My friend Sharon Hurley Hall also has a brand new newsletter that might interest you:
And if you’re looking for me elsewhere, you can find me all these other cool places:
Remind me not to ever try to play hide-and-seek on the Internet!