The current pandemic is revealing a fundamental principal of life, one which we often pretend does not exist: Life is uncertain. Inherent in, if not synonymous with the idea that Life is uncertain, is fear of the Unknown. Fear is a powerful tool whether trying to sell dandruff shampoo or persuading one to exchange liberty for security.
Our technology, which has kept us alive and functioning beyond what anyone could imagine 63 years ago (i.e. when I was born), combined with our innate hubris, has even led us to react with indignity at Life’s most certain prospect, which is to say death. We constantly try to negate this fundamental truth. If we compare our sense of uncertainty to a hole, we have tried to fill it with money, fame, cars, conquests, power, and entertainment. That hole of uncertainty that is inside society’s soul cannot, however, be filled for the very practical reason that it is bottomless. Life is uncertain.
Now, this pandemic has swept in and reminded us that people die. Randomly. I could be next.
Back in the day (i.e. when I was born) it seems that everyone knew someone or had a family member who owned a farm. Death is all around on a farm, and we accepted it then as part of Life. Back then, if you were served a Sunday dinner of fried chicken while visiting the farm, you can be sure that someone had chased down dinner and chopped its head off right there behind the kitchen. Going back 100 years, people died suddenly from infections, accidents, undetected health issues. There were no antibiotics, trauma centers, CAT-scans. We accepted death because we had no choice. Everyone knew that Life was uncertain.
We still have no choice. We wear ourselves out and frustrate ourselves pretending that we do. We howl at the moon and sue the hospitals and attending physicians because we want to blame somebody rather than accept that people die. Right now many are telling themselves that “things” will be okay when a treatment for Covid-19 is developed or we develop a vaccine or the virus simply burns itself out. But what if there is no treatment or no vaccine? What if it doesn’t burn itself out? Medicine can’t fill that hole, either. Life is uncertain.
Until we decide, each one of us for ourselves, that we are going to step out of our houses, go back to school, go back to work, and face the uncertainty, we are going to be captives of the fear that has permeated parts our society. There are no guarantees, and there will never be any guarantees concerning Covid-19. There’s no guarantee that you won’t be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow. There are no guarantees that you won’t slip in the shower tomorrow and break your neck. There are no guarantees that one of the asteroids flying through our solar system on a regular basis will miss us, and if one say, a mile across, should collide with Earth, it would destroy civilization as we know it. Life is uncertain.
Face the uncertainty of the day. You can do it with a mask and 6 feet away from anyone else if you choose, but sooner or later, you are going to have to face the current uncertainty and the fear that goes with it, and the fear that has been injected into it. Money, power, vaccines, fame, medicine, glamor, none of it will render you less fearful. You can’t fill the hole.
You have to bridge it with Faith.
I’m not going to tell you what to have faith in, so long as it brings you to the idea that Life is Good and you will face what the Universe throws at you without question and with as much grace as you can muster. Understand this as well: At some point, hopefully, after a long and happy life, you will fall into that hole of Uncertainty, immediately reaching the level of the Unknown. That much of Life is certain. Embrace it. But there are no guarantees. “At some point” may be tomorrow; don’t waste today on fear.