Uncertainty Is Its Own Trouble

This week, I expected to write about a reunion in Ohio with a handful of my graduate school friends. I haven’t visited with them in more than 20 years, because we live in five different states. I was eagerly anticipating seeing them in person. We would have unearthed long forgotten stories, laughed about our younger selves, and discovered who each of us is now. Last week, during the days we intended to gather, we emailed and expressed our disappointment along with our hope that we’ll be able to meet in the fall.

Uncertainty is its own trouble. Especially for a person like me, who thrives on planning and likes to take charge of my life. It’s even harder for people who are missing out on milestone events: canceled study abroad programs, postponed weddings, and trips of a lifetime on hold. For certain dreams, there’s no do-over.

I feel for anyone whose major life event has been short circuited by the pandemic. Those disappointments pale in the face of death from coronavirus, but it’s understandable to be depressed and frustrated by the loss.

Reading and watching shows about life during WWII is surprisingly comforting. From day to day, people in Great Britain and Europe didn’t know if they or someone they loved would be bombed, arrested, dead, or alive. Many days, just carrying on with ordinary life would be all anyone could manage. No doubt, some people couldn’t spare the emotional energy for dreaming of a happy future. But others projected all of their hopes to when the war was over and things got back to normal. The same way we do now.

These days, I remain hopeful for the future, but am learning to accept how much is out of my control. And always was. Tamping down my expectations is one of the lessons of the pandemic. I’m not planning too far into the future, not counting on anything unless it’s something that I alone can make happen, like writing, reading, laying out a new vegetable garden, or making a strawberry pie. I’m more at peace than I have ever been with taking each day as it comes.

Will I get together with my grad school friends in the fall? I hope so. If we can’t meet then, we’ll try again for next spring or summer.

8 thoughts on “Uncertainty Is Its Own Trouble

  1. I’m so sorry about your reunion! I have heard of so many people who have had to cancel really big plans. But as you say, now that we know this situation will be around for awhile, we just have to figure out how to react to it in a sustainable way. And I do believe we will get there (especially if we turn a deaf ear to the loud voices at both extremes!) But one way or another, we will get through this, and then it will be all the more fun when our events are rescheduled!

  2. Uncertainty is it’s own trouble, isn’t it? But oddly, so there’s a lot less to feel uncertain about these days. I no longer have to think about when to meet a friend for coffee or where I want to go on my next vacation. Instead, unless something significant changes, I’m certain I’ll be continuing to isolate for the foreseeable future.

    • Bev, I think my way of dealing with uncertainty is be hopeful for the distant future but pretty certain I won’t be traveling, going to restaurants etc. in the near future.

  3. I’ve been thinking of our parents’ generation a lot, as well. They went through so much, and not just for months, but years. It they could do that, we can do this. Good post, Ellen!

    • Thanks, Eliza. I think for some people, it was the shock of the initial realization, “Oh, this will last a while.” Now that we understand that, we are settling down into “How can we make it work?”

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