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Advice

Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’ Then, repeat to yourself the most comforting words of all, ‘This too will pass.’

~Ann Landers

After many weeks of (attempted) working from home, I decided to go into my office to get away from my kids and give myself some uninterrupted quiet time to finish a project that had a fast approaching deadline. I sat down at my desk, turned on my desk lamp, and took a minute to look around at all the things I hadn’t seen in months. Amazingly, even before I knew that it would be needed, when the likelihood that I would leave work and not come back for “who-knows-how-long” was zero, and as part of some kind of motivational idea that I had started earlier this year, I had pinned some aptly needed advice to my bulletin board.

I don’t actually remember when I pinned this up, but I was glad to see it there when I did

I was immediately struck by the appropriateness of such a piece of advice offered for all of humanity, given the current global pandemic and economic crisis plaguing our world right now. Yet, the personal nature of the advice was also striking. At a moment when I was feeling helpless beyond my capabilities, when each day brought with it new changes and different uncertainties, when there was no reason to believe that life would ever move in any direction, I read exactly what I needed to rekindle my spirit. This too will pass.

It will pass. This reality that we are living right now will soon be printed across the pages of history books. But before that happens, we will find ourselves on the other end of this inevitable time of trouble. I don’t know what our world will look like when this is over, but I can’t dwell on that uncertainty, for uncertainty is the exact quality of this global crisis that attempts to stare me down and defeat me. Putting one foot in front of the other feels impossible, painful, and pointless when there is no guarantee that anything, or even nothing, waits for you at the end of the path. Regardless, what other option do we have. Stay here? Backwards is not an option, no matter how badly we wish it were. So, I guess we accept the inevitable part of life, or we give up.

Today I choose to hold my head high and be bigger than that which is trying to beat me. The choice is the same every day and it’s never the easiest one to make. Things may not always happen for a reason, but I have to believe that this small piece of advice to myself, sitting unceremoniously in my cloistered office, was put there for a reason – and that reason, which was never imaginable months ago when it was placed, proved itself to be true in a future that could not be predicted. Maybe it’s only a coincidence, but I won’t believe that. Instead, I will take the advice that was given to me in such a surprising way, and I will trust it’s messages implicitly: Not only will I accept the words printed on the paper, but I will believe that the present holds promise and intention for the future in ways that we will never be able to predict.

One day, when this time has passed, I believe this experience will present its wisdom to me as unceremoniously as a piece of paper pinned haphazardly to a dollar-store bulletin board. Until then, I will repeat this advice over and over to myself.

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