We have all heard the expressions that something is black and white or cut and dried, meaning known and clear. There are lots of people who are most comfortable living their lives with everything being black and white – certain and fixed. However, the COVID–19 virus has made that all but impossible. Like it or not, we are all living in the gray zone, little in our lives is black and white any more. We are all living under a shadow of constant uncertainty. It is difficult to plan anything more than a few days out. Each occasion involves weighing the incalculable risk of participating against the sadness, disappointment, and isolation of missing out. Many activities have to be cancelled or modified at the last minute. We have to be prepared to pivot at any time. All this uncertainty leads to lots of frustration and stress making many cranky, including me on occasion.
And yet, it can also result in people becoming more flexible and creative. We are more able to roll with the punches, find new ways to accomplish something, and learn new skills to make things possible (like Zoom!). It can lead to greater appreciation of the interactions we do have – attending a performance, gathering with friends for an outing, or sharing a meal with others. I have learned to treasure these experiences and consider them to be gifts – small miracles. Living in the gray zone can also teach us to be more sympathetic and empathetic to others’ difficulties. We can understand their disappointments because we have had our own.
I never considered myself to be an especially flexible person, however, now that I am living in the seemingly endless gray zone, I am learning to accept uncertainty more and embrace adaptability. It is this ability, being able to adapt, that has allowed challenged species to survive for millennia and it will help us get to the other side of this situation too.
Here’s to going with the flow!