Being present with the “what is”

Many of us are living with the “what if” and “never was”. This is just one of the impacts of a world put on pause by the global pandemic caused by Covid-19. My youngest refers to it as “the germ” – a previously unknown entity that has thrown all of our plans into a heap. We all know people who have had to cancel significant birthday celebrations, anniversaries, holidays or even weddings.

We have lost significant life events to this virus, causing us to ask “what if” and regret the timing of the events we could and cannot control. My suggestion is to focus on the “what is”; to accept and adapt to the present and to make the best of what we have.

It can be easier said than done. A holiday we had planned for three years became gradually more unlikely and eventually we had to cancel. While trivial in the overall scheme of things, the holiday was a huge focus for my family. We should acknowledge these losses, mourn them, even – but then we have to move on.

I have written in another post about how I’m fortunate enough to be spending more time with my family than I would ever normally be able to. I’m walking with my wife most evenings, and eating at least one meal a day with the family. In a typical week, neither of these things would happen.

These unexpected perks of a global crisis have led me to think more about focussing on the present. While we can’t ignore the possibilities of the future, living in that unknowable land, or in the past, causes anxiety and stress that we cannot easily resolve. The only time we have is now. The present is the only reality. If we can embrace this way of thinking, we won’t expend energy on dealing with multiple possible futures before they ever happen. We also won’t spend all of our focus thinking about the things that never happened because of decisions made or unmade.

The past is the land of regret, the land of “what ifs” and “never was”. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our ability to predict the future is almost non-existent. Focus on the present, and live in the “what is”. Embrace the small wins, enjoy the little pleasures. And when this craziness is all done, and the world starts to forget, be someone who remembers those joys and makes time for them in whatever the new reality becomes.

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