So, I have an embarrassing confession. After my melodramatic class picture lament, guess who got the email about scheduling class pictures? After hearing from many of you who actually couldn’t relate because you actually did get pictures, I guess I wasn’t all that shocked to learn my previous post was premature and unnecessary. Turns out I’ll get my silly pictures after all. Oof.
There are lots of words that could be used to summarize 2020, but for me, in these 30 something weeks since March, I’m going with uncertainty.
Everything is uncertain.
I want to see my parents and extended family, but when is uncertain.
I want my kids to be back in school, 5 days a week with activities to shuttle them to, afterwards. How and when this will happen…uncertain.
I’d like to get a vaccine but when, how, and where are all uncertain.
I am cooking a turkey on Thursday for the first time ever. How it will turn out is definitely uncertain.
None of this is new. So why does the uncertainty feel more pronounced this week?
Maybe because it was uncertainty that rendered my last post irrelevant. Maybe because it seems the transition to a new President is finally happening — more or less? It could be because here in California, we’ve recently moved into the purple ring of Covid hell. Purple being the most severe tier the — sound the alarm! Danger! The end is near! — tier. Purple. Why not red? Uncertain. But this is 2020, so it makes sense to not use the color that is universally ominous and full of warning.
I’m trying not to follow news of the vaccine too closely because even though it’s looking good, who knows? Anything could happen between now and FDA approval and distribution. Isn’t that the lesson of 2020? Anything can happen?
All the talking heads like to remind us how hard living with uncertainty is. I’ve bought it. Nodding along and repeating that yes, uncertainty is so hard to live with.
But as Covid Thanksgiving looms, I wonder if we’ve got it all mixed up. Uncertainty is not the problem, certainty is.
Some of the things I’ve come to believe are certainties, aren’t. What’s that saying about death and taxes? I’d always believed that going to school between September and June was a certainty. Our next trip to see my parents was a certainty. Being able to smile at helpful strangers was a certainty. Turns out, there is a lot I’d taken for granted.
Uncertainty isn’t all bad. It leaves room for surprises. Sure there are unpleasant ones: “Surprise! Worldwide pandemic.” But there are happier ones too: “Surprise! Class pictures will go on.” If we abandon what we believe is certain, then anything becomes a possibility. This isn’t such a bad way to live.
The past 9 months have been difficult and uncertain. But in some ways, it’s the difficulty and uncertainty that make finding gratitude easy. There are only a few things I can know for sure but they are enough. This is the real gift of 2020.
This Thanksgiving I’m reminded to take nothing for granted. I’m thankful for the very few certainties I know: who I love, who loves me, and what I give is what I get. Beyond that, I’m leaning into the uncertainty. Thankful to know that today, anything is a possibility.