How ironic that a number previously associated with perfect vision will go down in history as a year that nobody saw coming.
Will it be remembered best for the muddled, short term thinking of the majority of world leaders? For the nonsensical politicising of face masks in the U.S.? For the BLM movement following the senseless death of George Floyd? Or for the somewhat predictable lack of support for artists and creatives in this country? Quite frankly it’s a smorgasbord of confusion, take your pick.
Your Circle of Control
It is easy to become angry. In today’s climate, it’s hard not to cast aspersions and blame. We’re all trying to find logic in a situation that defies logic.
Poor hygiene in a Chinese meat market creates a deadly virus and chaos across the world, leaving millions dead. It sounds like a poorly-conceived pitch for a disaster movie (that would have been rejected out-of-hand by Hollywood producers as too far-fetched).
We shouldn’t be here, and yet here we are. It’s no wonder tensions are running high. The majority of us understand that if we are wearing masks and washing our hands, we are doing our bit; demonstrating that we care about others and our world. But here’s a question: If you see someone not wearing a mask, what thoughts run through your head? I would personally jump to the conclusion that such individuals are inconsiderate, selfish, foolish, putting people’s lives at risk, keeping us in the state of lockdown, and contributing to the current uncomfortable situation.
I stop myself. Because I remember that, like most people, I am on a hair-trigger caused by this Corona-coaster. I’m primed and ready to blame others for the current situation. So I have to catch myself, breathe, and rationalise because I want to help; it’s what I do, and the logical part of my brain knows that blame and judgement only adds fuel to a fire that must be distinguished.
If someone is making a conscious decision not to wear a mask, then my anger and frustration will do nothing to change that. The only one being affected in this interaction is me, and I have a choice; to accept that what others do is out of my circle of control. I don’t want to feel these emotions, and so I choose to do the right thing and keep my distance.
Let’s look at it another way; if I decide to tell that person they should be wearing a mask, it is probably a waste of breath. What could come of lecturing this non-mask wearer? If anything, my interference will only strengthen their resolve that responsible, conscientious mask-wearing citizens are do-gooding sheeples (sadly some people hold this belief.)
Also, consider this. Perhaps this person simply forgot to wear their mask? It happens. I paid for my petrol last week with my mind on other things and only realised when I returned to my car that I hadn’t been wearing my mask. It was an honest mistake, and thankfully there was no one else queuing, and the cashier was safe behind his Perspex shield. The point is, as observers, we don’t always know the whole story.
How would we expect a responsible parent or teacher to talk to a child when he/she is distracted with the poor choices of other children? To stay focussed on their own path, not to listen to those who might be a bad influence, and to be sensible, right? Perhaps we need to heed some of our own practical, adult advice.
Make a Choice
What is the best way to get through this unsettled time relatively unscathed?
Being the Dad of a Disney-loving six-year-old daughter, I would listen to Elsa, the animated Ice-Queen from Frozen and let it go. Happiness is a choice. We often forget this and get caught up in things that don’t concern us.
Instead of becoming distracted by people and situations that drain our energy and trigger negative emotions, we could focus on kindness. We could do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and avoid falling into the quick-sand of blame, judgement and criticism, because it will drag us down. We could protect ourselves and those around us by being proactive, and not reactive.
If you can take action and it will make a difference, then do it. I’m all for making a stand and speaking your mind. But if you continue to focus, and dwell on a problem you can’t solve, you will create inner conflict. (I find myself having to disengage with updates on the U.S. election for this very reason).
If you notice unsettling behaviour but are powerless to change it, then you render yourself less capable of making a positive difference within your circle of concern. So try shifting your focus and attention onto what you can control. Do this, and you will be more productive and happier.
So What Now?
Please heed Mahatma Ghandi’s prophetic words and ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. Be kind. Go the extra mile to be there for friends, family, and strangers. Help those who want help; not for any reward but because the point of this life is to share it with others.
Go out into your community (with your mask on and some hand gel) and be one of the good ones. Others will choose to walk a different path, let them go; this is not your concern. Instead, put your focus and your energy into positive endeavours. Why? Because after all of this is over - and remember that it will be over one day - all that will matter will be how we treated each other.