Living Well in the Face of Chaos, the Coronavirus

This morning, the men of Alinea Counseling got together for our weekly gathering. A time to connect, process our lives, and sharpen each other as counselors.
Today, we couldn’t help but discuss a topic that is on the front of everyone’s mind these days: the Coronavirus.
So much feels up in the air. Look at what has happened in just the last couple of weeks! What will the next few weeks look like? How is your family? How are your friends? Do you feel prepared for what may come? What is going to come?

Which begged the deeper questions, “How do we live well today in light of all the chaos in our state, our country, and our world? How do we plan? Is there room to dream? How are we to think, and what are we to do? What needs to be our focus?”

You see, as counselors, we are constantly asking ourselves and our clients, “Where have you been, and where are you going?”

So, it gets tricky to think about where any of us are going, when circumstances like the one we are in make it impossible to know for sure.

Crises, like the one we are all facing now, have a way of bringing up an epic and clarifying categories. A client said to me in a session this week that he is facing the reality that he may die from this virus because his demographic fits the criterion for individuals who are at the highest risk. He made a statement to me that was profound.

“If I die in the next couple of months, what will have been true of my life over my many years? What about just the last 5-10 years? And on that note, if I get to live for another 10 or 20 years, what will I want to be true of the time I have left? What’s most important to me? And how shall I live now with the time I have left, however long that ends up being?”

I have so much respect for this client. Without wanting to sound morbid, his question is one we should all consider. It made me wonder: What matters most to me? Whether I have a month, a year, or many decades left to live, how do I want to spend the remaining time that will be given to me…………?

And then I immediately thought of my children. And my friends. And my family. My clients. That’s what matters most to me. All of a sudden, things like social media, that trip I had planned for the summer, the boat I was thinking of buying, whether I have a date next week………..all fell away as issues not really all that important to me.

This morning it became clear to us. We have right here, right now. Connecting with ourselves, with those we hold most dear, and with God. These are what matter most. This is what we are to be about. Tomorrow will take care of tomorrow. Today, I can love and engage with myself and others. That’s it. That’s what we have.

I have decided recently to ask myself and my clients the following questions: “What do you need today? Who do you want to be to those you love most? Is there anything you need to say to them? Where are you spiritually? How do you bring love and goodness to yourself and others? If today is all that you can know for sure, how do you want to spend it?”

I used to camp with my family often as a kid. And when the sun sets on a camping trip, the flashlight is a necessary and welcomed tool. I remember walking the path from the campfire to our tent, using the flashlight to illuminate my path. But my flashlight only showed what was right in front of me. Where I needed to put my feet next. I wasn’t able to see the rock in my path 20 feet away. That would become clear when I got to the rock itself. The flashlight just helped me see what step to take next. Where to put my feet, and what to dodge now.

I think that’s a fitting analogy for what our world is facing at the moment. We can’t see 20 feet in front of us. But maybe we can see the next 5 feet and the people that we love who are in that circle of light. And maybe that’s what matters. And perhaps, that’s all that has really mattered all along.