Patience and Perspective: Uncertainty in a COVID-19 world – Elemental

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. In the span of a few weeks, our lives have been flipped upside down, leaving many of us in a deep state of anxiety and uncertainty over what the future holds. Myself included.

Constantly planning for my future, its easy for me to get overwhelmed when things go awry. As a future-oriented person, I have an extremely hard time focusing on whats here, right now, in front of meespecially when my environment does not match the ideal world Ive built in my head for myself and others. Instead, I tend to focus on the future and what it will supposedly holdand I usually get it right most of the time.

At times, this future is precisely what kept me afloat. It gave me something to look forward to and made my day-to-day life and its share of hurdles seem like a necessary step in the right direction. Pre-COVID-19, I couldnt wait to accomplish my lifelong goal of moving abroad. And things were looking up. Then, suddenly, my entire world collapsed over a few days. Borders closed. Lockdowns happened. Hiring freezes prevented me from landing my dream job. All the more events that no amount of planning could have ever anticipated.

Naturally, in the face of such exceptional circumstances, friends and family usually advise you to be patient. They insist that patience is a virtue. That we need to remain hopeful. They ask us to remember that all of this will be over soon and that we will be able to live our lives as we intended to, so as long as we dont lose sight of the goals and ambitions weve set for ourselves.

But as much as this advice feels good to hear and gives you the motivation you might just need to make it through the day, the reality is that we just dont know if and when this whole situation will be over. And if being patient implies waiting for an outcome whose terms we have no control over, is it wise to follow this advice? Arent we possibly creating utopian expectations in our heads to make the present more bearable? And if we are, would it be wrong to do so?

Some say yes. They contend that our focus should be on resilience and acceptance rather than patience. That we should live in the present moment and practise mindfulness instead of planning for a future ever so elusive. This is the argument that Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts and other writers alike have made. They attest to the unchangeable nature of the past and to the fleeting nature of the future and advise us to focus on the present instead. To accept our circumstances for what they are without waiting for them to change and to practise detachment as much as possible.

But this isnt easy for everyone either. This can be perceived as passiveness for many who would rather have some degree of agency over their own lives. Telling someone who just lost their job and home because of this pandemic to accept their circumstances can sound clichor worse, utterly insensitive.

So what is the solution, you ask?

Well, perhaps it lies in redefining acceptance itself. Perhaps acceptance could mean embracing the fact that this situation sucks and that we are allowed to struggle with it, while not losing track of the bigger picture of what we are working towards. The word picture should be emphasized here. Rather than attaching ourselves to a future weve carefully planned for years, we should embrace that it is only a picture, likely to evolve under the strokes of a brush we do not have full control over.

Ultimately, once we find that middle ground between patience and acceptance, we are likely to find some inner peace.

Originally posted here:
Patience and Perspective: Uncertainty in a COVID-19 world - Elemental

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April 16th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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