The time we live in now has a new name. Uncertainty.
Ask anyone about their well-being and you will likely receive replies that vary from ‘so far, so good’ and ‘not bad’ to ‘trying to be positive’ and ‘surviving’. Most responses are variations of a cautious sense of optimism, echoing a never-before kind of anxiety and circumspection about life.
Certainty was never a feature of human lives at any point. There has always been a twist here and a turn there, but uncertainty has never been so obvious and brutal as it is now.
We had never acknowledged the fluidity of our existence as intimately as we are doing presently. It is as if all the zest for life has been sucked out of our being by the unfolding plot of the pandemic.
I recently chanced upon a word, Cherophobia, which means fear of happiness. It seems as if we are all becoming cherophobic, slowly and imperceptibly losing our capacity to laugh and celebrate life unrestrained. There is a constant sense of danger lurking in the corner, and we are forever scurrying to take cover from our insecurities.
Where do we now find happiness when tragedy and transience take over our lives? Whence do we derive our peace of mind in these turbulent times?
For a long time, I had lived under the impression that psychologists were beyond negative thoughts until I met someone who grieved the loss of a parent like any normal human being. It was then that it dawned on me that tragedies could affect even the most stolid minds and what helped them tide over it was knowing how to alter the course of the mind. They probably knew how to tweak thoughts and rein them in. They understood the dynamics of a disturbed mind and employed methods to placate it.
Now, more than any time before, we too have a need to find ways to grapple with this tumultuous streak in our lives.
Just like the psychologist who unabashedly displayed her emotions in front of me, I must confess that I too am susceptible to anxieties, despite the life lessons I frequently serve up. Fear has been the overriding emotion in my heart for a while now, angst has superseded hope, and the way uncertainty has manifested itself around me makes me think there is no tomorrow. Or is there? One would not know for sure, but what one knows is that we have this day and this moment.
As the mind wandered looking for a place to roost at peace, the present moment appeared in front of me asking to be embraced. I made a pitstop there, amazed at how the present moment had always been there for me, but I had not taken notice of it at all. Always yoked to past or yanked by the future, hauled over regrets and anxieties, how I had not savoured the time that laid itself out in all its glory I front of me.
It was always about what had happened and what can happen, never about what is happening right now. Think about it. Haven’t we fretted more about what our children will grow into or how successful they will be in their careers than taking delight in their childhood? Don’t we worry more about our retirement years than enjoy the days of employment? Don’t we look back on what could have been and sigh more often than reckon what is now and rejoice?
The more I pondered, the more I realized that the antidote to my fear of uncertainty lay in giving the present moment its due. But realization is one thing, and its execution is another and how I struggled to put my own recommendation into action!
I am mentioning this here only to stress that it is easy to theorize solutions, but to formulate a plan and implement it takes a lot more spiritual strength, and that strength comes from inside us. The best and the worst of us lies within and knowing this alone will help us in these uncertain times.
I shall not claim that I have tided over my tensions about the future completely; there are occasions when I am ambushed by dismal thoughts, but I can affirm that the present moment now comes to my rescue more often than before.
Carpe diem, carpe diem, I repeat to myself, and when I settle into its essence unconditionally, committing myself to it fully, my fears dissipate, and I am revived all over again.