A friend of mine recently said he likes to go down to Lake Washington for sunrise because the smoke from fires in the region have made the sky so striking. We've had a similar experience with sunsets in a nearby park looking out over the Olympics. While the sky isn’t (yet) as extreme as it is down in the Bay Area, it’s made me think about how something so beautiful can be caused by so much destruction. We’re living in the age of paradoxes. It's wonderful to no longer have a commute and be able to spend more time with the family; but I sure do need to get out of this house. We're living in the throes of a global pandemic, leaving severe illness and death in its wake; but I’m living a more healthy lifestyle than ever.
How to square these contradictions? We humans seem especially skilled at living amid contradictions. I think that’s because we’re inherently optimistic. Yeah, sure sometimes it’s hard to look away from the dirty underbelly of society. Yet it’s also true that we can’t look at a problem with out considering how it could be fixed. As a species, we’re programmed to look ahead to better times and strive to get there. Most of us cannot contribute to medical research or contain forest fires, but we can follow public health guidelines and take precautions in areas with high fire risk. All the while, we can enjoy the positive aspects of the present situation — like sunsets and family. For my part, I'm waiting for the smoke to clear and then going for a hike.
Some thoughts for keeping it together in these times.
There's loads of uncertainty. How to deal with it? We may look back on the PC (pre-Covid) world as a time when we were more in control, but if we were honest with ourselves, we'd realize much of that was an illusion. You make a plan and inevitably something changes to blow it all up. The knack, of course, is how you manage through the debris. It’s crucial to remember that we are an adaptive species. Our brains are designed to problem-solve as circumstances demand. There’s an instinct to dig in and resist change, but if you remind yourself that you have successfully adapted to change in the past, you will do so again.
It’s starting to cool down at night but that doesn’t mean that you can’t extend your outside time into the fall. The sun rises later and sets earlier so maybe you switch your morning walk to a mid-morning or afternoon walk. The dog won’t mind. Pack a fleece and a pair of socks when you go to the park. Stow some blankets out on the porch, patio or balcony. In the Pacific Northwest, we like to say that it’s all about proper layering.
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