Covid19, Elections, RBG, & Other Things Over Which We Have Little or No Control

Most of us like the illusion of personal control and take comfort in ideas which suggest that we can predict the outcomes of most of our decisions.

So how well did you do at predicting Covid19 at all, or any of the ongoing effects? How well are you doing at predicting the outcomes of many of this year’s elections and what will happen depending on who wins what?

While the death of the Honorable (certainly far more honorable than most) – and Notorious – RBG was predictable, the results are completely unknowable at this time.

Geez Louise.

When we get to peeling away the layers of the unpredictable, what do most of us find?

We usually discover that we can manage little things (what’ll I have for breakfast?) but the bigger the area of choice, the smaller the odds of a predictable outcome – never mind the random nature on the universe.

Oh, you want an example?

Okay. In the spring of 1971, while I was living on the tip of a frozen sand bar, 15 miles out into the Arctic Ocean and 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, 5 young women were sharing a house and preparing to graduate from a small Christian college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had no earthly connection to Jean, Mary, Nell, Carol or Sue. So the two wings of the stage are set.

The convergence of those wings would begin a year later when I moved to a tiny, dying, gold mining camp on the Yukon and, a year later, one of them took a teaching job in a Yukon River trading post 200 miles upriver. Our paths crossed very briefly and another of the woman appeared upriver.

Three years passed with no consequences.

Then another ex-roommate appeared and a canoe trip found them in my front yard.

Skipping ahead, over the next two decades, I would become friends with one, engaged to another, marry a third, and be conned by both the third and fourth. Only door #5 remained closed, thank god.

None remain in my life, nor have they for over 20 years. But the events devastated my life as much as any unpredictable hurricane, wildfire, earthquake or other seemingly random event.

The consequence? I use this example to remind myself, frequently, that I am not in charge as much as I like to think, and to be happy to manage the small decisions and hope that accumulate into bigger and more important changes.

Examples again? I quit smoking, riding motorcycles, and overindulging in alcohol. I went back to school at 45 and chose psychology as, probably, a more financially stable interest than my creative writing. I quit listening to physicians who’d been telling me since I was 27 that I’d be dead within a few years (I’m pleased to report that not only am I still around nearly a half-century later, but they aren’t).

In short, I decided to focus on what I could manage and quit fretting as much about what I couldn’t. Both my quality of life and blood pressure have improved as a consequence.

No, it isn’t always easy – believe me, 1.5 hrs of physical therapy M/W/F and 2.5 on T/TH/Sat are not unrelenting fun. But the prospect of getting back a functional left leg after 7 years and 4 reconstructive surgeries keeps me at it most of the time. Read most – not all. Most is usually enough.

So, why the trip down memory lane? I hope it helps you to sort out what positive things it would profit you to focus on. Yes, you should wear a mask, avoid gatherings and idiots, and vote. Otherwise you have better things to do than worry about things beyond you control.

Looks to me like surviving until next summer, and making plans for next fall, and getting in shape to enjoy those plans, makes the most sense as to what to do now. That’s why, when I finish this, I have a dozen exercises to run through – well, maybe not run, more like hobble, but that can change IF I do my part. What’s your part?