By Rick Kraft
Storms happen. They are unavoidable. As we live through our years, they are a significant part of each of our lives. We’re always in one of three positions: entering a storm, in a storm or leaving a storm.
Sometimes we’re ready for the storm and sometimes we’re not. Some storms are beyond our control, such as a tornado touching down, and some we create ourselves, such as quitting a job. Some impact a family member being diagnosed with cancer and some impact a large group as in 9/11.
Storms knock us off the paths we are following and set us back on our journeys. They slow us down and can even paralyze us.
But we were made resilient and with determination to survive any storm we experience. Although some storms change our lives forever, with time, each storm passes.
Individually and collectively we wake up today in the middle of a storm. It is a major storm that covers the entire world. We didn’t choose it, but we must accept the fact we are in it.
The fear and the reality of a life-threatening coronavirus impact each of us every day. Mankind fears what it doesn’t understand and what it can’t control. The reality is that we don’t know the future. Human nature in times like this pushes us to live in fear.
We each process the coronavirus crisis differently. We fall somewhere across the spectrum from being unable to sleep at night and being afraid to leave home to living life as if the virus doesn’t exist.
If I had a crystal ball and I told you I knew with certainty that the coronavirus scare would end on such and such a day and that you and your loved ones would be unaffected, your fear meter would drop or maybe even go away. I do know it is not likely any of you reading this will die in this storm.
In 1933, with our nation at the peak of the Great Depression, at his inauguration, Franklin D. Roosevelt opened his address with “First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves, which is essential to victory.”
In this time of crisis, we can be our own worst enemy. We choose how we respond. Ninety-seven percent of what we fear in our daily lives never occurs. But our fears often drive our lives.
We need to maintain our quality of life without losing time to fear. I have this philosophy that life is short and each day is valuable. I also believe that there are no problems, only opportunities. I see my current world today as one with countless opportunities. How great of a chapter of our lives this is to be told to stay home.
Personally, I am loving life each day. I choose to not let fear of the unknown future rob me of today. I can’t change the future until it arrives. I have enough going on in my life that I need to get done today.
There is a song from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” titled “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Its lyrics are “When you walk through a storm hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.”
Even in our darkest hours when we can’t see them, the stars are still out there shining.
The coronavirus storm will pass. It’s one day closer to ending than it was yesterday. When it passes you will still be here, but with fewer days to live than you have today. Don’t waste these days.
Our nation will leave this storm a different nation than it was when we entered it. We may think twice before shaking a stranger’s hand or sitting in a crowded arena. We will appreciate full shelves at our stores and the daily routine school brings.
America is the home of the brave. We are a courageous nation. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to manage fear. We need to live each day courageously.
My challenge to you is to take this storm seriously, but don’t live in fear. Listen to authorities and follow their instructions. It is a small price to pay for the sake of others in this time of uncertainty.
Clean your hands often, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, avoid close contact with others who are sick, cough into a tissue or your elbow, and stay home. Wear a face mask if you are sick.
But celebrate the opportunities this storm brings. You’ve been given a precious gift of time you did not have a month ago. Don’t fumble this gift away in these days you are given. The temporary new normal is not that bad.
Spend time with your family. Play some old-fashioned board games. Work on a puzzle together. Pop some popcorn and watch a movie.
Maybe you need to get some work done around you home. Clean out a closet. Fix something that has been broken for some time. Support a local business that is struggling. Serve others in need.
Live each day to the fullest. You only have one chance. Be safe as you ride out the storm. But recognize that this too will pass.
Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, a motivational speaker and an attorney.