I look outside and the colors of the autumn leaves give me a sense that things are alright. Summer turns into fall, fall turns into winter. Seasons change as they always have. Thanksgiving is in two weeks, and I will be with my children, as I always have since they were born (except last year when we Zoomed for Thanksgiving).
Life is moving on in a familiar pattern. And yet it feels like so much has changed.
When the pandemic started in March of 2020, I believed that with the shutdowns and so many people isolating at home, things would be back to normal in a few months. Twenty months later, with vaccines available and reports of numbers going down, the news recently reported new spikes in some places around the country. Will this be our new normal?
The coronavirus is an invisible intruder. It has created waves of anger in people. I believe this is because we all feel out of control. My attempt at control, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, reduces my fear. But it does not eliminate it. Others try to grab a sense of control by defying orders like mask mandates. By demanding the right to make their own decisions, they are trying to feel some control in their lives.
But none of us really have any control over this virus and its impact on the economy and our lives, and that is the overriding, unsettling feeling that we are learning to live with.
We are reminded of the lack of control every time we go to the grocery store and familiar items are missing from the shelves. Here in SC, I have not been able to get Gatorade or the cat food I normally buy for several months. There have been alternatives, new items to try. How long will they be available? I have no control.
We see gas prices going up. The cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner will be higher than the last few years. I can control what I buy, but I cannot control the prices.
We get our vaccines, we wash our hands and wear a mask, and we go out in public and other people may not be following the same protocols. I have no control over anyone else.
Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At the very basic level we need food, drink, shelter, sleep. Once these needs are met, people look for the need of safety and security. We want to experience order, predictability, and control in our lives. These past 20 months have rocked our sense of safety and security, and for many, the most basic needs of food and shelter have been threatened.
To stabilize my sense of safety and security, I choose to focus on what is predictable and what I can control. In my world, I can control when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I can control what I eat and what I wear. I can control the health practices I choose to follow. I continue to have my morning cup of coffee while I read or journal. I look forward to the weekly Hey, Boomer broadcast.
I am fortunate to live in a safe home in a safe neighborhood. I am fortunate to have friends and family that I love and who love me. I am fortunate that we can all visit for the holidays this year and we are no longer isolated from each other.
Even with climate change I can predict that summer will be followed by fall and fall will be followed by winter and winter will be followed spring. I can predict that my cat will wake me early each morning because she wants her breakfast. I can predict that the battery on my phone will lose its charge throughout the day.
I hope that this holiday season you are able to be with the ones you love. I hope that you will find your inner sense of control, predictability, safety and security.