A river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but its persistence.
The Covid pandemic in many respects brought us to our knees. The background noise of a divided country made it worse. Instead of working together, we slung arrows. The “other” became the enemy and it stopped feeling safe to express our differences and share a healthy discourse on them. The extremes became more pronounced. Finding middle felt impossible. It still does.
I feel like we are in a huge paradigm shift that is forcing us to question everything. With the onset of the first lockdown, fear of the unknown escalated. I was struck by long lines at the grocery stores with faces covered by masks navigating loaded carts that showed evidence of stripped shelves once packed with product we never considered one day would not be there. As I scoured the internet one evening, I could see others saw the opportunity in the pandemic. eBay was loaded with listings for flour and toilet paper at ridiculous prices and people were buying. Sadly, I was one of those buyers. My fear got the best of me.
Still, I was one of the luckier ones. I had to make decisions at work based on a path I could not see but inches in front of me, if at best. Sometimes those decisions directly impacted others. The choices at junctures were painful. There was no time to plan because what you once counted on to plan was no longer the reality. There was no time to cry either. To do so seemed a luxury. For awhile my creative pursuits went out the door. I could not seem to focus except on the most immediate needs. The stress I felt sent me to my garden or the easel in the quest for respite and perhaps an answer I still do not have. It helped a little if only to view the color of flowers and to hear the gentle sound of leaves rustling in the wind.
The unknown still looms before me. I guess it always did, except I got too comfortable. I am not sure what is next. Are you? This is not an easy fix. It’s humbling to remember that others also faced formidable challenge at countless points in the continuum of time. Yet I can’t help feeling that we are being called to not take the familiar for granted. For me, this further cements the reality that what I need to do is to keep one foot in front of the other and persist in following the road I see ahead even if it twists and turns in directions I cannot see. I drive by a house almost daily where a plain but powerful sign speaks: Never Give Up. The first time I saw it, I thought it a sign, just for me. A vain thought, of course. I am quite sure there are many who had the same reaction I did when seeing it. At some point I want to thank the homeowner for posting the message.
Helen Keller once said – a bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn. Back to that road of twists and turns. It’s right in front of us. We have faced daunting lessons and losses during our time on earth. For some, these have been quite significant during the pandemic. But, when we reside in the moment, when the chatter stops and the fear subsides to a whisper, there are also opportunities – to be kinder to one another, to never forget to tell a loved one how much they mean to us, to stand for decency and respect towards each other, and to listen, really listen.
Yes, listen. That is what we need to do. The so-called quiet of the universe is trying to speak, but the roar of our voices and incessant thoughts has not made it easy for us to hear that voice. It will come to us when we are ready, truly ready, to hear the message. The revelation may be different for each of us but make the turn we must. New beginnings come with courage and perseverance, and the realization that if we want something we never had, we must forge a path we have never walked.