Optimism Amidst a Pandemic

We are all here at this time affected in multiple ways by the coronavirus, whether it be  in some kind of lock down from or  sniffing the first sweet aromas of freedom because of strict rules thanks to vaccinations.

As I am fond of books, especially books with some kind of profound wisdom in it, I found my forgotten copy of “The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down” underneath a pile of unread books next to my bed. I got it pre-pandemic from a dear friend and it had something to teach me.

Skimming through the pages, I figured most of us have learned to slow down in this weird time, focusing on things that help us hold on and get through. The fast pace of the  outside world seemed to have become a dangerous place, so why not turn inward, taking it one step at a time and focusing on the small things? Though it might feel like the best choice, trying to keep that focus while everything we used to know feels upside down somehow can be challenging. 

Seeing the optimistic side of things comes natural to me. I like to shower people with compliments. I’d like to think I would have been an excellent cheerleader if I could monster the gift of not dropping the pompoms. 

As with so many people, the length of this pandemic has exhausted my optimism. I have a ton of small things that usually make me happy- dogs, cats, books, being able to connect with people, or even help people but when my mind wanders, sometimes a deep sadness surprises me. Sadness about the state of the world,…not being able to hug the people I love and the endlessness of it. Just the other day when I was doing nothing of importance, I was extending my driver’s license, my mind drifted and suddenly that bucket with tears was full.

Knee deep in snow, bike in hand, I slouched to the community center and irony found me when a teacher from my son’s primary school appeared. Talking about optimism: big smile, red coat, upbeat steps, and a cheerful voice.  Even though she exchanged not more than a few words with me, I felt grateful and better.

The sadness wasn’t gone but I realized, right then and there, we are all in this. We are all in it together. Sometimes on our own, sometimes with someone but we all share this experience. That is something to be thankful for.

“The more grateful we feel, the happier we become. This is because gratitude helps us realize we are all connected.

Nobody feels like an island when feeling grateful. Gratitude awakens us to the truth of our interdependent nature.”

 (The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim)

Yet, these small things seem to be the only things that are still there at times. The ability to connect with others (even though in distance), eating or preparing food, taking care of ourselves, reading or watching endlessly what makes us happy, and maybe, focusing inward, slowing down, deliberately taking the time for loved ones or for yourself will make the difference.

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