As someone said to me this week, “I don’t want to see or hear the words unprecedented times or our new normal anymore.” To be honest, they, like me were just mentally exhausted and rife with a bit of anxiety. And who could blame any of us right now? These are different times for sure.
Now to be perfectly candid, I’m a born worrier. So even though there is a pandemic going on, this anxious brain is not new to me. In fact, my third-grade teacher pulled my parents aside to say she had never seen a child worry as much as I did. So to be frank, it’s in my DNA, and I have my suspicions about where it came from, but that’s for another day. The point is, even when all is well in the world, I struggle to keep my overactive imagination in check. The what-ifs take over and I’m quickly swept up from the present and plopped right down into the imaginary future. And while this sounds harmless enough, it means I am completely and utterly missing the present.
Here’s the deal, as much as the phrase unprecedented times makes me want to throw things, it’s where we are at. It’s where we are all at. No one is exempt. And we all deal with our stress and our anxiety in our own ways, some admittedly better than others.
Some people like to dig into the data and the stats and predict a potential outcome. Some like to retreat completely and escape into a good book or a movie. Some like to make a Plan B, a Plan C, and a Plan D just in case. (Do I have any kindred spirits on this last one? It’s okay we know who we are.) Anyway, I could go on, but you get the gist. In particular, when times feel out of control, we are all craving some predictability, something we can count on, something we can control. But as another dear friend and colleague said to me, “Control is an illusion. We never had it in the first place.” (He’s far better at rolling with it than I am.)
So here we sit, all coping in a myriad of ways. All learning new things about ourselves, our communities, and our society. All in this thing together, no matter how it turns out. So we could stand to give each other a little grace as anxiety and worry are too close to the forefront for so many.
All of this got me to thinking about another anxious time in my life, which honestly seems silly right now, but in the off chance it’s helpful, here’s how it went. As this past January was rolling around, the start of a fresh decade, I found myself getting lost and wound up about making a New Year’s resolution. Should I or shouldn’t I? Maybe just a theme or a word? Maybe a 20 for 20 list? I was riding in the truck with Cowboy one day vomiting all of these words and anxious thoughts to the calmest soul I know, when he looked at me and said, “I’ve got one for you. How about you just be. Just live your life and just be.”
I immediately had this sense of “duh, you are making this way too hard” wash over me. I smiled at him and said, “You’re right. You are absolutely right.” I’m telling you the man doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s totally worth listening.
So if you need someone to give you permission to just be, I’m offering these words up to you in the hopes they bring you comfort or maybe just a little relief in these anxious times. The beautiful thing about taking a moment to just be is that the past and the future aren’t part of the equation. Rather, it’s just the moment, the present. So hug a dog, text a friend, take a walk, read a book, or say a prayer. Whatever works for you, but allow yourself time to just be.
Featured image (just be) © treenabeena – stock.adobe.com. Standard license.