When Our Problems Are Too Big

October 12, 2020

What do I want to say about the pandemic that we are all now living through?

I have a core belief that our why shapes everything in our lives. It seems to me this pandemic is stepping on everyone’s why and at least for me, it is making me anxious.

My why is to make things better, and it feels like this tidal wave of a virus is drowning my why. I have clients dealing with debilitating injuries or the death of a loved one. These people are suffering through great strife and turmoil, and they look to me to help them through this time and make things better for them and their families. I’m a small business owner responsible for making things better for the people who work with me. They depend on me for their financial security. I have my own family who looks to me for stability and support. It’s a lot.

I know I am not alone or unique. This virus is indiscriminate. My problems are typical problems being felt by people at every rung of the socioeconomic ladder, by every person of every race, ethnicity, religion, and even political affiliation.

The enormity of the problem is overwhelming. As I think about it, I feel small, like when I am alone and looking up at the stars. I’m insignificant. What can I do?

What do we do when problems feel too big? Fear tells us to hide. Anger tells us to lash out. Sadness tells us to do nothing, and Shame tells us to cast blame. How can we come from a place of love and happiness when everything seems to be falling apart?

My son told me a story that helped me. It comes from the times of the court jester. In those times, royalty presided over people and made decisions for them. Kings worried about the people in their charge, and they used court jesters to lighten the load. Jesters always seemed to bring the king back to earth when things were going well and prop them up when things were not. One particular king chose to put a challenge to his jester. The challenge: come up with one thing that will make me happy when I am sad and sad when I am happy.

After several days there was a sense of pride in the king as he watched the jester struggle. The jester came into the hall to speak to the king. The king was sure he had stumped the jester as he stood before him. Looking down, the king asked, “have you solved my challenge?” To this, the jester looked up at the king and proclaimed, “this too shall pass.”

COVID-19 will also pass. Until it passes, all I can do is shrink down this vast universe of a problem into the tiny universe of my world. I can’t stop this virus from spreading, but I can take care of myself and avoid spreading it in my little world. I can’t force the courts to remain open for my client’s cases, but I can do my best to push forward with my client’s cases, so we are ready when it is safe. I can’t solve the country’s economic problems, but I can make sure the people who work with me get paid. I can’t stop my loved ones from being angry or afraid, but I can be there to love and support them through this crisis.

All I can do is all I can do, and all you can do is all you can do. We can only control ourselves and love and support each other. If we all adopt this philosophy, this too shall pass.

I’m making these posts because my why is to make things better. I hope that people reading will take away something that can help them on their journey.

Thanks for reading. Be well and stay safe.

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