“When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”
– From Alice in Wonderland
“I cannot count on anything to be a certain way,” said my friend Susan, during one of our bi-monthly conversations. It was one of those phrases that not only struck true for me, but summed up all that I was feeling. Nothing is as it used to be. And I’m struggling to find my bearings.
As a child, I learned very early – probably before I could even talk – how to read people and understand what was acceptable behavior and what was not. I spent pretty much the rest of my life avoiding the pitfalls and landmines of life by interpreting my surroundings. It helped that at a certain age you learn the basic rules of society, such as to be a nice person, to value life, to help those in need, to respect your elders and your teachers….those kind of things. And how to behave if you got sick. You listened to your doctors and followed their advice. Or, if you didn’t, you suffered the consequences and were ostracized.
We have entered a time and space where what we thought were “the rules” just don’t apply anymore. And what we expect to happen, doesn’t. Where the line between facts and propaganda is blurred and everyone is out for their own self-interest. For a person such as myself who has lived her life successfully by “reading the room,” I have to admit I am lost.
I remember when my son was little and was, as we affectionately termed, “an envelope pusher”. Part of that was his curiosity as to what is out there, part is a personality trait of wanting to draw attention. But a big part of it came out of feeling insecure, of needing to know where were the boundaries that would keep him safe. And kick and scream as he might (and trust me, he did), when he really understood the boundaries, he would find peace and settle down. It was a painful process for everyone.
I have never related so much to my son at that time of his life as I do now. I want someone to say “THIS is the way you – and society – should behave and THESE are the consequences if you don’t. And if you just follow the rules, you will be safe.” This is not happening.
We are in a time of turmoil, of great unknown and great changes. Much of the change is necessary and painful to implement. Much more has yet to be revealed. We are facing a NOVEL Coronavirus – one for which we don’t have answers and can only use our best judgements and a lot of trial and error. We are facing societal upheavals and questioning of our institutions. We are facing impossible scenarios with education and business.
Who do we turn to for the answers? Who will be our savior – the one we all listen to and follow? The answer is in front of you – in the mirror. YOU are the answer. YOU are the one who will know what is right and what is wrong. My friend Susan was absolutely right: you cannot count on anything. And when all around you is broken down and unreliable, what is left? YOU.
This is the time when we are confronted with our own reality. When we are feeling lost, we need to find our own way home. When we are feeling confused, we look inside for the answers. And when we are feeling anxious and upset, we find the comfort within.
These are not easy times. But these are important times. TAKE the time you’re being given to find your way into a new world reality. The answers are there, just waiting inside for you.