Anyone can slay a dragon …but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.
I used to pass my days and weeks by anticipating the next big thing—a conference, a trip, reuniting with family, even trying an exciting new restaurant or seeing a highly-touted new film with my wife and friends. Events took place in the shadow of the anticipation of a new “dragon.” That anticipation was always a stepping stone away from the present, something in the future. In many ways what was happening next held the energy, not what was happening now. The calendar was remarkable for its promise of future grand events rather than for what made this day something to pay attention to.
That changed abruptly five months ago. Cancelled flights and hotel reservations, restaurants delivering food, two-dimensional Zoom relationships rather than in-person gatherings; it became a whole new world that discourages us from looking very far forward. While some have found the change of pace calming, I find it just as easy to be impatient with days that can blend one into the other. I wonder when the new normal will emerge, whatever that will be. Of course looking forward has been made that much more difficult by the bungling of our pandemic response and the attendant financial collapse. The stubborn insistence by so many to follow impulse instead of science and to think of one’s own convenience over collective welfare means we will be in this public health catastrophe for a long time yet to come. Perhaps we are so far from a new normal it is completely unknowable. Perhaps we are already in it.
I have decided that, for me, the secret now lies in somehow loving each day. Mostly I think that means doing what I can, where I am, with what I have, in service of what is important today. Loving the now, listening to the sound of the genuine, appreciating the basic goodness all around us, and meeting the needs we see right in front of us. It can be an inexhaustible source of meaning in an otherwise dark time. As Howard Zinn said:
“The future is an endless succession of presents, and to live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
This will require courage. Facing the now rather than fantasizing about some future state or event brings us face to face with being awake and available rather than lost in a series of dreams.
So, I ask myself:
- What will it take for me to wake up every morning and love the world all over again?
- I can’t change the whole world, but what can I do today, where I am with what I have?
- What need can I meet today that will help someone else love the world all over again?