Lessons in Uncertainty

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching me new lessons in uncertainty. Although the curve has flattened, and the numbers of people who are infected have dropped, the virus remains a concern.  Instead of letting my guard down and becoming complacent, it remains important to continue to observe public health recommendations to stay safe.

The questions that haunted me since March continue. Will I or a family member contract the virus? How do we stay safe? How long will this epidemic last? When will I have the freedom to come and go as I wish?  How long will social distancing last? When will I see my grandchildren? How will the future unfold? Are hugs and handshakes gone forever?

Despite messages of hope from politicians, there is free-floating anxiety and fearfulness in news reports. Millions of people around the world have tested positive.  The death toll rises in every country.

Control what you can control…….

It’s clear that the Coruna virus has shattered any ideas that we are in control of our lives.

The mantra ‘control what you can control’ comes from the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr and widely used by 12 steps programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous springs to mind.  It’s famous words spring to mind when coping with the uncertainty of COVID-19. https://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/god_grant_me_the_serenity.html

Staying at home makes me realize how little control I have over many aspects of life. When our son played soccer as a youngster, a coach had a memorable saying that went something like “you can’t control the weather, you can’t control the ref, and you can’t control the field conditions……so get with it and use your skills to control the game”. This was his way of encouraging players.

While staying at home and practising social distancing when out for my daily walk, the words from this coach (who was a bit of a stoic) have come back to my thoughts again and again.  I can’t control the virus.  I can’t control it’s spread. I don’t know how long it will continue as a threat.

Instead of focusing on what is temporarily unavailable, I try to focus on what I can control.

Lessons in Uncertainty -- photo courtesy of Fallon Michael on Unsplash
Lessons in Uncertainty — photo courtesy of Fallon Michael on Unsplash

What I can control…….

Here’s my shortlist of areas where I can exercise some control.

  • I can control my attitude, thoughts and behaviour.
  • I can control how I spend my time each day.  I can spend time on things that are important to me.  I can forgive myself when I’m distracted and unproductive.
  • I can acknowledge the uncertainty of this time rather than becoming overwhelmed.
  • I can keep a positive attitude.
  • I can practise self-care — getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and exercising every day including walks outdoors to absorb the spring sunshine.
  • I can express gratitude for the comforts of my home and the many diversions I have.
  • I can be thankful for my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren — even though I see them infrequently and at a distance.
  • I can tidy my house, clean closets, enjoy my gardens, and work on projects that I’ve put off.

Lessons in Uncertainty

Whatever happens with COVID-19 is out of my control. I can’t change the progress of this virus but I can continue to take precautions such as staying at home and keeping a physical distance when outdoors.

Because scientists and public health experts base their recommendations on incomplete information, I need to accept ambiguity and make my peace with the new reality.

Solitude can be a source of strength during the pandemic.  The same can be said of leisure.  I enjoy the precious lazy afternoons sitting outdoors with my husband when we have time to talk with each other. I can enjoy uninterrupted time for my hobbies.

Sometimes it’s hard to do nothing. During those times I remember that the stay-at-home orders will end. Life will get busy again. When that happens, I’m sure that I will miss this special time of pandemic isolation — even with the uncertainty!

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested in your comments about dealing with uncertainty during this time.  Have you changed your thinking about what you can control? Have you become comfortable with uncertainty?

2 Replies to “Lessons in Uncertainty”

  1. I do enjoy the extra time at home. It’s nice to have time for hobbies and to start new endeavors. The uncertainty that weighs on me most heavily is my mother. She is 97, and I have not seen her since mid-March. I can echo her – and do several times a day. Doing that and reminding myself that she is doing well gives me comfort. All her meals are brought to her room, and she actually prefers sitting and eating in front of her tv rather than going to the dining room. That makes me smile. At 97, she deserves the guilty pleasure of eating in front of the tv. It is a good thought to think of the things you can control. Also, it’s a important reminder that the virus is still here. Good post in these times. Enjoy the day!

    1. Your mother’s health must be a constant worry. My sister-in-law has dementia and is confined to her room in a nursing home in Maryland. Fortunately, the staff members take time to connect her with family on FaceTime.
      You are fortunate to use your camper to keep exploring. My husband and I have stayed sane with retreats to our cottage during the past few weekends for a change of scene. We take our own food as the little towns on Lake Huron aren’t equipped for a rush of tourists during the epidemic. Stay well,

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