His journey reminds me that there are no guarantees in life, that we have to make the most of every moment, that there is no perfect life, and that judgment of others is a waste of our time and energy because most of us are doing the best we can with what we know.
Being human is a risk in itself, the beauty is that we have the capability to handle it.
In my home, I have a dog, two cats, and a turtle…sometimes four kids, right now it’s three, and technically if these times would cooperate with us a little more, I’d be down to two. Half the time it’s no kids and no dog and it gets a whole lot quieter, which for a short time can make for a good recovery session, but I can’t imagine life without them all filling my days. As far as the animals go, the little cat eats the dog food, the dog eats the cats food, the big cat is after the turtle food (he literally tries to knock it off the shelf to get it open) and most of the time, I feel sorry for the turtle because it seems lonely to me in his isolated tank. All of this has taught me more than two things about myself and life, but the two I’m thinking about this morning are that:
Being adaptable is incredibly important.
In the words of Brent Taylor (who’s daughter’s words made last weeks blog) “We are all 95% the same, we just view life through different windshields.”
I’m paraphrasing here because those two sentiments came over the course of an evening I spent with them last weekend, and those words bridged a gap of wisdom for me through great conversation that help give me comfort in these times we are dealing with.
From the people I talk to, to the texts I get, to the thoughts in my own head, the pressure out there is real. It seems that we all feel isolated, both for physical and emotional reasons. We are challenged to decide what is the right move to make, what is best for us, what is selfish and endangering others, what is steeped in fear based mentality, and what is actually benevolent. I say all of this as my oldest tested positive for COVID this week and is in her own isolated bubble, as are other athletes on her team. She is strong, asymptomatic for the most part, and I am confident that both mentally and physically she will be ok. But, through all of this, my honest thoughts are that my weariness is coming from the fear based mentality that has grown since March and I don’t think that raising multiple generations of kids to be scared is in anyones best interests.
When we started this pandemic walk together back in March, we had so little information, we didn’t know how it was going to move through our society. I know that the worst case scenario in my head was gymnasiums and hospital ships filled with sick, and worse, dying people, and that we had to lock it down to keep this scary scene from happening. As time has gone on, we have lost many, and I’m not saying that’s ok, but we have also learned about how this virus affects different segments of our population. In large part, young healthy people are not at risk of dying, and even for middle age healthy people, the risk isn’t great enough to shut us down and risk all of the extenuating effects that isolation and fear create in our society.
According to a June 2020 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 5,412 US adults (shared with me after a new connection read my blog on the effects that COVID has had on student/athletes mental health) found that 40.9% of respondents reported “at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition,” including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and substance abuse, with rates that were 3 to 4 times the rates 1 year earlier. Remarkably, 10.7% of respondents reported seriously considering suicide in the last 30 days. The sudden interpersonal loss associated with COVID-19, along with severe social disruption, can easily overwhelm the ways individuals and families cope with bereavement. -JAMA Study
That alarming statistic makes me believe even more that we are not doing our best when we come in with a one size fits all approach to living life with this pandemic in our midst.
I realize that just by making that statement, I will ruffle probably more than a few feathers of people I respect and hold dear. I realize that there are many people who I respect and love who wouldn’t have traveled to Utah last week like I did to attend an outdoor concert and visit old friends, but man, it felt good, healthy, and alive. The windshield of my life has cracks in it made by substance abuse and suicide and I can’t support an approach that creates secondary trauma like what is described in that survey and what I have witnessed as part of my own experience. When I was in Utah last week, the Governor came on TV at 9:30PM on Sunday evening with an emergency address, letting citizens know that cases were climbing again and he was mandating masks when you leave your home statewide, and banning large gatherings of any kind. But what he didn’t do was shut down schools or businesses. The pandemic is real, but so are the social, emotional, and academic needs of our students if we want to produce a healthy next generation and, right now, from what I experience in my own home, we are not getting our chin above the bar. They are not learning on Zoom what they learn in a classroom. In addition, striving American families (included in that is anyone who needs to work to maintain their standard of living) need to be able to work and create opportunity for themselves and the people who work for them, there is no amount of bailout money from Washington that is going to physically and psychologically support able bodied humans who are used to being in control of their own destiny, even though there is no escaping the short term effects on commerce that this pandemic has and will continue to have. Beyond that, we have the ability to deliver love and any worldly goods necessary for the people who need to stay home.
We are adaptable. We must have the agency to assess risk and innovate, because having agency over our own lives is an essential component of maintaining our optimism about our road ahead.
It is true, nothing shakes our foundation more than the fragility of life. In many ways we have been forced to confront it this year with the pandemic, I also remember sitting in a very silent space after Matthew’s accident in 2009, and last week I confronted this space again as a dear friend, a young man just outside the circle of my own kids, was in a terrible car accident and is in Texas fighting like a champion and empowering others to do the same with his faithful, strong, and hopeful spirit. He is teaching others what real bravery looks like in the face of immense and incomprehensible tragedy, and showing us how to walk the road, no matter what it looks like, with faith instead of fear. His journey reminds me that there are no guarantees in any day, that we have to make the most of every moment, that there is no perfect life, and that judgment of others is a waste of our time and energy because most of us are doing the best we can with what we know.
Being human is a risk in itself, the beauty is that we have
the capability to adapt and handle it.
I sit here today, perplexed by the state of our country, even though I spend so much time trying to figure it out. Knowing in my heart how hard I have worked on my own state of mind to not show up timid and fearful of what the world is about to throw at me, and work hard to improve the view out of my own windshield so that I can give my kids a better ride. It’s becoming more clear to me that the ride doesn’t need to be easy, without any potholes, they just need a sober driver with a love instead of fear based approach to risk. So I trust my gut and try not to second guess myself, knowing that loving something, whether life itself or the people in it, requires great risk. My favorite quote this week from one of the books on my bedside table is:
“ Wellness isn’t a state of being, it’s a state of action.”
- Burnout - The Secret of Unlocking the Stress Cycle
I’m fairly certain that the authors wouldn’t agree with a lot of the things I have just written, but I still love their book, and writing is one of the many things I do to complete the stress cycle. I’m empowered this week to continue on my own journey of wellness, complete with growing kids, confused animals, country music, lots of volleyball, looking out my own windshield, and beating fear with kindness, love, gratitude, and faith…and praying that grace will be extended to me in the places I am wrong. Joe we are praying and fighting with you all the way for a full recovery. Stay strong, you are the embodiment of the strength the world needs so much right now.
P.S. - Most every Friday, I listen to my Release Radar on Spotify because I am in awe of artists and songwriters and the chills they bring to me every day. Most weeks there is a song that speaks to me and helps me understand myself and the world a little better. When I find one, I decided I’m going to start including it here. Take a listen to these genius lyrics from Eric Church.
Photo Credit: @ralphkaden on Upsplash