This morning, I was driving over to my local drive-thru to get a little something to eat. It was a foggy morning in Monteagle — not at all unusual up here in our mountain hamlet. At one point, I was approaching a popular intersection and a pickup truck was looking like he was going to make a left turn through my lane of traffic, but he saw me at the last minute and stopped. That moment got me thinking about its resonance as a metaphor for this particular moment in our collective lives.
The reason he couldn’t see me had nothing to do with inattentiveness or distraction and everything to do with the fact that the fog was there. It was too thick to see more than what was immediately before us.
As I’ve navigated over the last week of being (mostly) confined to my house, that’s exactly how this moment has felt.
If you let yourself spin over possible future outcomes, you’ll be paralyzed. The fact is, none of us knows what might happen tomorrow or next week or next month. How many of us will have symptoms related to covid-19? How many will have serious symptoms? How many of us already are vectors, carrying the virus without symptoms? We simply cannot know.
But we can focus on what’s right in front of us. We can choose to pay attention to what’s happening in this moment, right now, right this second, right where we are.
For me, today, that’s been easier than it’s been in seven days. For the last week, if I tried to focus my attention or my eyes on a single thing, I’d inevitably find myself restlessly unable to just do one thing. I couldn’t focus on this moment, because there were So Many Moments that all seemed to be happening at the same time.
So I get it. It’s really hard to even do this one seemingly simple thing, to focus on right now.
But that’s the only thing we can do. And like the fog that made it difficult to see a half-mile ahead, my goal — for the foreseeable future — is to try to make sure the next decision I make is the best one I can make. Just that one. I don’t need to know how the entirety of the next six or seven weeks is going to go. I just need to know, basically, how the next day or two will go. And then I’ll adjust.
That’s all we can do, and until this fog lifts, it’s the only reasonable way to proceed.
By this afternoon, the fog was gone. While the sun never peeked out from behind the clouds, I could see a bit farther, see a bit more clearly, and make plans farther ahead.
In two years, we’ll look back on March 2020 and remember it as a time of uncertainty, of anxiety, of upheaval. But we will be proud of all we did, the adjustments we made, the way the whole country — indeed, the whole world — came together in collective action to make our collective futures a bit brighter.
Right now, we’re in the fog, but soon, soon, we will meet that brighter future.