Monday, April 13, 2020

#SOL20 - Finding Meaning: Notes from the Pandemic


"I'm trying to see this place even as I'm walking through it," is the conclusion to Catherine Pierce's poem, "Planet." That closing line has stayed with me the last few days. It expresses the way I have felt this last month. Not so much a stranger, but rather one who needs to better understand the overly familiar in some new ways. 

Pandemics shift the familiar, not by fundamentally changing what we see, but rather by changing who we are as we see. It's not the landscape that has been changing. Rather, how we see the landscape has been changing due to what we now are able to see. 

It is those new insights that I want to write about today.


Emily Esfahani Smith (2017), the author of The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed With Happiness tells us that it is in searching for meaning that solace is created.  She writes, 

"When we devote ourselves to difficult but worthwhile tasks...our lives feel more worthwhile...The most important parts of life require hard work and sacrifice...Only by facing challenges head-on can we truly find meaning in our lives" (p. 36). 

Years ago when Rob told me to live brilliantly. I first thought it was how I did tasks. Be the best mother. Live artistically. Teach well. Brilliantly was the driver of that sentence. 

As grief lifted, I began to see flickers of new insight. The verb, live,  seemed to be the most important part of the sentence. 

How we live. 
How we respond to life is what matters most. 

It wasn't what I was doing that mattered as much as it was how I lived.

What we will make of this present moment is defining in many ways.  The question I wonder for myself is: In what ways will I compose better versions of myself?

1 comment:

  1. Seems like these days I do an awful lot of recollecting and reflecting. It started, oh, maybe four or five years ago, deep thinking about things long past, unchangeable. It's cool you're composing better versions of yourself. Me, I'm mostly running in place. In 1977 I enlisted in the US Navy. In 1978 I had my first deployment overseas. Just before I left to join the fleet on the old Indian Ocean station I got a LOT of shots. Because there were so many getting inoculated shots were given using this thing called an air gun. It didn't have a need. It looked like something you'd see at a gasoline station. You know, that thing connected to a compressor you use to add air to your tires. It's on my mind for some reason. I just finished reading That part at the end about hand washing and cloth face coverings not really doing much for us. It'll be vaccinations that finally turn the tide. It brought me back to my air gun experience. Passing through countries in Asia and Africa I couldn't help but wonder where and how the locals got vaccines. I still have no real idea. The squalor in which many lived at the time, maybe to this day, left me reflective then and more so now. We Americans don't seem to have a lot of experience with -demics, epi or pan.


    I don't really know where this is going. Or why I started putting in my two cents. You're fortunate, I think, to have purpose. Over my lifetime I've reinvented myself several times. At least I think I have. Recollecting and reflecting on that, now, I'm not so sure. The reinvention has been mostly career-wise. Dunno that I've changed all that much in the ways that matter.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing.


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