Empty store shelves. Businesses shuttering their doors. A surge in firearm and ammunition sales.
The last few weeks have held many inauspicious hallmarks of a coming apocalypse. And while I don’t believe that COVID-19 is the harbinger of doom, it’s certainly tested our world’s collective ability to grapple with uncertainty — including my own.
When it Falls
Like most people, I’d imagine, this event struck my life at a rather inopportune time. My online business had been building momentum, and I’d been saving my earnings for many months in anticipation of my first big adult purchase — a vehicle. I was approaching the two-year mark of living with my partner, and my home life felt stable and secure.
For the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of stability and solidarity with the universe. As though my efforts were beginning to coalesce and build a foundation for me to stand upon. This was all a welcome contrast to the last seven years of my life, which had been characterized by profound dysphoria, depression, and anxiety as I wrestled with the world’s most indomitable force: uncertainty.
Now, amid recent events, I’ve been forcefully reacquainted with uncertainty — but the dynamic of our matrimony has changed. Instead of kneeling in terror in anticipation of reuniting with a formidable foe, I’ve tried to welcome uncertainty with open arms. To bow down in reverence before the arrival of a capable master.
The Master of the Universe
To me, uncertainty is the founding principle of our universe. We exist at the mercy of cosmic and biological forces. We live with the realities that death will take away our loved ones, that disease can rot away our lives, and that even the ground beneath our feet hangs in a precarious balance.
Why then, do we pretend that uncertainty is a force to be quelled or ignored?
I keep seeing news headlines and articles entitled “When will things return to normal?” and similar variants. In all of these pieces, the author anticipates a “return to normalcy,” with normalcy being the operative word.
Everyone is entitled to define the forces of this world as they please. But to expect any degree of normalcy from life is to expect pennies to rain from heaven.
The truth, I believe, is this: We’re not guaranteed or entitled to any notion of “normalcy.” We may expect to continue living in a neatly compartmentalized and functional society one day. We may be brought to our knees by the forces of nature the next.
These are the terms and conditions of reality. We’d be wise to accept them.
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