One year ago, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. One year ago, if we were privileged enough our jobs had us start working remotely. One year ago, school districts closed down in-person schooling. One year ago, we had no idea what was coming. One year ago, we could not anticipate what would change and what would stay the same.
We like to believe that we know what will happen next, that we can mostly foresee approaching events. Our confidence in our presumed knowledge of the future comforts us, and we benefit from our ability to predict. Human civilization is founded on our anticipation of weather and climate cycles, our ability or good fortune to know when temperatures will increase, when crops will flourish, and when we must start to harvest. These processes have allowed cities to grow, labor specialization to develop, arts to flourish.
But our confidence in our predictive abilities is an exaggeration, or at best an approximation. The uncertainty we recognized one year ago, at the start of the pandemic, is actually true every day. Although we often can foresee the coming moment, we must always remember that our mental faculties are limited and fallible. At many moments in our lives, surprises both fortunate and unfortunate appear which we could never predict. Which no one could predict. And because we are so accustomed to knowing most of what will come next in our lives, these surprises can turn our world upside down.
Somehow, we must integrate both of these truths into our daily lives… That usually a similar moment will follow the previous. And that occasionally, unexpected and startling events will transpire. At times these events will delight us. At times they will terrify us. But by their very nature, they will shift our understanding of the surrounding moments.
We must do our best to hold onto the sacredness of each moment — surprising, ordinary, extraordinary, delightful, terrifying, gratifying, depressing, transformative, amazing. For each moment holds within it the fruits of all moments past and the seeds of all possible futures. Each moment is a testament to those things which we hold most sacred to ourselves… love for partner and child and family, care for friends and neighbors, connection with this planet and its land that we call our home. Those are the things that are real.
We cannot be certain about which future will come from this moment. But we can be certain about what this moment holds — love, care, and connection that might be enough for each of us. Whether this moment feels certain or uncertain, that is how this moment can hold us, and perhaps give us something to which we can hold as well.
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