I can’t believe that the Fourth of July is almost upon us! I can’t believe that summer is in full swing and that the year is already half over. I mean, think about that for a minute. 2020 is half over and many of us have spent the majority of it at home! Geez.
The truth is, there is so much I can’t believe these days, and I know I’m not alone. My new favorite phrase is "I didn’t see that one coming" or "I’ve never dealt with that before, so let me take a beat and think about it before I respond to you."
There is a lot to think and rethink these days. Each of us has a jumble of emotions that we’re trying to sort through. At least I know I do. I find myself trying to balance my physical health with my mental health. I find myself desperate to get off Zoom and yet grateful that we have it as a way to gather.
I find myself trying to absorb and balance what each of my kids is feeling and going through these days. I find myself trying to balance what those I work with are feeling and going through as well. Everyone I know has a different take, a different opinion, or a different stance about what’s happening in the world today. Everyone has thoughts on what we should or shouldn’t be doing, whether we should be socializing or staying inside, who should be posting on social media and who shouldn’t. The list goes on.
I’m finding that many of us are at our wits’ end for a whole host of reasons. When I really don’t know what to think or say about all the issues surrounding Covid-19, I defer to Dr. Fauci or to my old common-sense barometer. I try to tell my kids or friends to follow their guts, wear their masks, get tested, and connect with others responsibly (because your mental health is critical too). And, when common-sense advice doesn’t work, I go for a walk.
When I walk alone, or when I lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling, I don’t find myself dreaming of a vaccine (although, of course, I really want one). I don’t find myself longing to be in Cape Cod for July 4th, although that's usually where I am and it's where my cousins will be this year without me. (Three of the young people in this photo above taken last year are no longer here on earth, so remember every day is precious, every relationship fragile, and every holiday an opportunity to celebrate in whatever way we can).
I don’t even dream of going back in time to the beginning of March, when I was in New York anchoring TODAY, hanging with friends and family, and feeling so optimistic about life.
Instead, I’ve taken to dreaming my life forward. This shift in perspective takes me from a mindset of “Holy moly, I can’t believe what’s happening” to one that says, “I can’t wait for what's going to happen." I imagine holding my first grandchild in my arms and being stunned at the miracle of life. I can’t wait. I imagine all my kids thriving, being loved by someone special, and feeling good about themselves and their paths in life. I can’t wait.
I dream of the day when there’s a cure for Alzheimer’s and getting to feel proud that I was a part of that. I can’t wait. I dream of living in a just, loving, fair, compassionate country that was brave enough to reform itself from every angle. I can’t wait. I dream of being at peace with myself, having done the hard work of reforming all that needed reforming and realigning within me, so that I can be the most awakened version of myself. I can’t wait to be that me!
The other day, my friend Tom, who is a gifted writer, thinker, and feeler, wrote me the note below. I thought it was so observant:
"There is an awakening, but it is partial - not just some people and not others, but some parts of ourselves and not other parts. We're at war within and without - between the new and the old. But I have total faith that we're moving in the right direction... And yes, the awakening needs us. But it doesn't need the part of us that says 'the awakening needs us.' It needs the humble part that longs to learn, not the arrogant part that wants to teach."
Don’t you love that?
So, in this “I didn’t see that coming” year, I’m going to try and get out of my own way and dedicate the rest of 2020 to the humble part of me. The part that longs to learn and awaken. I’m going to try my best to give the strong, arrogant part of me—the one that always wants to be doing, doing, doing—a rest. She needs a rest.
Like Tom, I also have total faith that we are moving in the right direction. I know the wave has already begun. So, as we all look ahead to the Fourth of July, let’s not bemoan where we are or where we wish we were. Let’s allow the humble part of ourselves to lead us forward.
What if we dreamed ourselves forward to the country we want to live in? After all, we are lucky to live in a place where that’s actually possible. We are lucky to live in a country where people are experiencing change in real-time and where people can imagine a future they can actually work to create. In fact, today is the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. People rose up on this day for those in the LGBTQ community and now life for them is vastly different, thanks to those freedom fighters. It’s not perfect, but it’s different because people stepped up and out.
Know this truth: What you work for today will make life better for someone who comes after you. That’s what I explained to my daughter this week as she was suggesting that my work schedule was out of control. I told her that what I’m doing today is hopefully going to make her life, her journey forward better. That’s how it works. That’s what winning looks like. That's what freedom feels like. That’s what moving humanity forward is all about. It’s why we are all here.
So, in this “I didn’t see that coming” year—a year that has brought so much pain and hurt to so many, a year that has left so many unemployed, scared, and anxious, a year that has been unpredictable in every way—may we each find something to celebrate in another. May we each find something we can do for another. May we each try to make another's path forward a little bit better.
I feel like our country is much like a new child brimming with excitement, joy, and frustration, and we are the parents trying to guide it towards its best future. What a gift that is. What an opportunity we have. Let’s all do our best to get it right.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, in this time of uncertainty, help me live my life forward. Help me shift my thinking from “I can’t believe what’s happening” to “I can’t wait for what's going to happen." Help me see what's possible and be a part of making it happen. Amen.
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