“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake.”– Eckhard Tolle
How do you find rest in a world that feels so restless right now? We are not only dealing with another lockdown but also with a crazy terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria. The constant sound of police sirens is the “new normal”. Time seems to stand still. People and students are advised to stay home. I wonder what’s next?
Lately, and with all the insanity going on, I have noticed I am indecisive about the smallest things. Like what to cook or when to go shopping, what to have for dinner, or whether or not to go for an afternoon walk. Like, is it safe? Is it okay? Will I get fined for it? Do I have to wear a mask while doing X, Y, and Z? I don’t think I am alone here. When so much is uncertain and I have such little control over the big things in my life, my plans, my job security, the outcome of an election that may affect us all, I often turn my attention to the little things I can control.
Then, I think that I can safely adapt to the new situation and out of nowhere something else crazy happens. So I have to make new choices in my day, working from home, staying home, or homeschool introduces new decisions into my life. Would I be surprised if the Independence Day Spaceship would hover over Vienna in an hour? Nope.
“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.” – R. Rowell
Life has always been uncertain, but for better or worse, this year I have seen that uncertainty up close. It is hard to know what I want for any given day when I cannot make decisions about the months or years ahead. So, what do I do? I stay positive while focusing on the good things in my life. I still have a job, plans, and projects. I am healthy, and so is my son. I have no fear and don’t worry. When something is out of my control, the fear is useless because it is no longer up to me: the decisions have been made for us. I can stop worrying about things that I cannot change and rather focus on things that matter while making the best decisions I can and then I recognize that the future will tell its own story. Alternatively, I make peace with getting it wrong sometimes. I make a mess on occasion but I trust my instincts and relax.
Trying to solve my life or to comprehensive the magnitude of circumstances and injustices outside of my control is not worth it because it is too overwhelming. To me, it is comforting to think small, to postpone the big, stifling plan for a moment, and focus on tiny, good things. Like making chicken soup. Or writing. Or reading. Or taking a nap. Or tidying my apartment. Or tweezing my eyebrows. Or applying red nail polish. Or listening to a song (and not the news!). Or calling my family and friends. Or playing a game with my son while being fully present. These are all ordinary things that I often overlook but this is when I connect with myself the most.
I think, in this crazy time, we don’t have to do anything special, we don’t have to do anything extraordinary, and we don’t have to think big. We all should focus on the small, ordinary, good things. When things were still “normal”, I often caught myself wanting more, more, more but then there are these encounters where it all feels like enough: this crazy virus (that is so dangerous you need to be tested to know if you even have it) or a terrorist attack that brings you back to yourself. That’s what I suppose I find extraordinary in my routine: these moments of being extra-alive while being in the center of chaos. All these small, good, ordinary things form a pile, they make me feel safe and create a wall against this bedlam.
Inside of me, the sun is always shining. I don’t try to solve my whole life or take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I let my pile of small things grow until I begin to have something I can stand on again. Something steady. Even if it is just for a minute.