Brave and afraid … at the exact same time

As I was speaking to my mother on the phone this morning, I asked her about a time that slightly resembles what we are living today. I asked her about December 1989, the winter of the Romanian revolution. I was 12, a year younger than my son is now and she was 37, five years younger than I am today.

I asked her how come she wasn’t panicked, why, with four children under 12, she was not having panic attacks about the tomorrow she could not anticipate in any way, how she was dealing with being asked to stay inside for an indefinite amount of time and no food on top of everything. Granted that a lot of time has passed, my mom remembered that she was not panicking because she did not know a lot: there was only one channel back then, the official one, and no mobile phones. Dad left home one day and came back after several and that was that, we could not call him every minute. She also remembered that parents were not so demanding in terms of school work so there was not such pressure to deliver a program and people were used to entertaining their kids for there wasn’t much else to do even in “normal” times. Lastly, it was a change that clearly led to better times and that made it all much easier to bear. For a while there was chaos but then the stores filled up with stuff we could only dream of.

My feelings are a pendulum these days. I go from wanting to know everything there is to know about what is happening and potential solutions to not wanting to hear anything and using the ostrich method to calm myself down. I open my eyes in the morning grateful to be in our home, healthy and with plenty of food, work and energy and I end my days feeling guilty for the same reasons at the news of so many people dying, losing their jobs and with no solution in sight. I start telling myself that all of us staying inside means we are helping and when I hear the numbers being broadcasted I wonder whether all of this effort is worth anything at all.

I look forward to this pendulum stopping. It is exhausting. And I go back to my conversation with my mom this morning and her reminding me how each time a change struck we concluded that we have no idea how to handle things, only to finally figure them out in the end. Not seeing the light does not mean it isn’t there, this is what faith is about. It is absolutely normal to be scared or anxious in the face of such uncertainty and it is important for each of us to acknowledge this about ourselves. Validation of our feelings is important. We also need to stay within the realm of reality, do what is needed and useful, do our part. And somewhere, at the intersection of these two, we will have already started to weave the new us, a generation who is going to remind their children and grandchildren, years down the road, that being afraid and brave at the exact same time is exactly how hard things are done.

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