By Tami Boesiger
At the beginning of the summer, I never would have guessed we’d still be here, people working remotely, kids adjusting to the nuances of distance learning, masks everywhere you look. And I can’t say I’m hopeful it will be over any time soon. As cold and flu season approaches, won’t there be more fevers, more germs, more precautions, more testing, more concern over what is and is not coronavirus? Will this ever be over?
This uncertainty is uncomfortable! We don’t want life to be on hold anymore. We want to live it NOW, even though many things have been taken from us. It’s easy to let our minds wander, trying to predict the future or feeling angry about where we are, but this doesn’t help our stress level. It only makes us crabby or anxious at our lack of control in our current reality. We can’t just wait for the COVID storm to be over to find happiness and relief, especially when the end is unknown. We have to find peace in the middle of the storm.
At the house I grew up in, we had a tin awning over our back door. Whenever it rained, I found the pattering of raindrops on the tin soothing, like a natural form of white noise. Storms rolled in and the wind howled, thunder cracked, lightning flashed. Yet in the middle of all the noise and commotion, the gentle pinging on the tin calmed me, providing peace in the middle of the storm. We can find refuge like this in COVID as well. We just need to look for it. We need to pay attention to the small moments at our disposal every day, tuning in to find the good, beautiful, and soothing elements.
Several days each week, I get a video message from a friend who lives in rural Nebraska, recording the sunrise where she lives. She has a favorite spot on a hill, where her cattle are silhouetted against the rising sun. The air is still and quiet as colors burst into view. In that moment, watching the promise of a new day, she has peace and a reminder of her smallness on planet Earth. As I watch with her and hear her words, I sense the relief, the deeper, slower breathing, awe reminding her there is more than the current crisis. She treasures these moments of calm, even getting up early to experience them, knowing they will help center her for the stress of the day. I doubt she knows it, but she’s practicing what counselors call mindfulness, a deliberate act of staying in the present, soaking in what it has to offer. The concept works for all of us. When we attune to where we are, we can find a bit of peace in the storm.
I’ve talked to several people in the past few weeks returning from a vacation. Though the locations and activities were all different, one theme stood out. Every person said they forgot about being in a pandemic. Their hikes in national parks or mountains, relaxing on the beach, or walks around the lake took them away from the crisis. But one doesn’t have to travel far to experience this relief. It can be found sitting on your deck enjoying the cool and quiet of the morning, sipping your coffee slowly. It might be a family road trip to your favorite ice cream shop or concentrating on the lulling hum of the vacuum cleaner. As I sit around the firepit with my kids late into the night, absorbing their laughter, appreciating their wisdom and wit, their spunk and silliness, I don’t think about masks or case numbers or altered schedules. I find rest, refreshment, and a bit of normal, a welcome break from current worries.
Finding peace in the storm is a matter of savoring the moments, being fully present where you are, letting your brain rest in and enjoy the now instead of the uncertainty of the future, noticing the good that lives in the everyday. What can you see in your corner of the world? What moment of wonder can pull you away from remembering we’re living in a pandemic? Have you overlooked the oasis that lives in your own home? Open your mind, friends. Use your senses to track down your happy place. Look, hear, smell, feel, and taste the respite around you. Find peace in your storm.
We will get through this. One day at a time.