And there she was… the young gal, maybe 19, 20… doing cartwheel after cartwheel in the afternoon sunshine in the park. As I was out for my daily walk (which is a little bit longer now since my local gym is closed), it struck me…
What does it take to do cartwheels in the park?
Excuse me. Allow me to reframe the question…
At this crazy moment in our culture — unlike any most of us have ever faced — what does it take to get through the time in a cautious yet still carefree way? … in a way in which we are prudent in ample precaution, yet don’t fall prey to a paralyzing sense of worry and hysteria? … in this time of uncertainty — when there’s a temptation to make the uncertain certain — what does it take to still do the cartwheel in the park?
No doubt the desire to minimize the pandemic’s speed and spread will have crucial consequences. Our economy is currently crumbling; American production has been halted in multiple areas; and soon the job losses may be measured in millions. In addition to those who actually catch COVID-19, the longer this continues — prudent as the nationwide shutdown may be — the loss of income and employment will be devastating to many. Again, there is much uncertainty, of which it is impossible for us to make certain.
So what can we do?
(With all due respect to the sagacious Steven M. Covey) Allow me to semi-humbly share what we’ll refer to today as “The 7 Habits of Highly Hopeful People”…
1. Be educated but not obsessed.
Get the news. Watch the news. Maybe (even better) read the news. But beware of the bias (as it’s always there). Know when to turn the TV off.
2. Contemplate community.
Have you ever considered the authentic value of community? Groups of people, coming together, caring for one another… How can we help? What can we do for one another? What can we share?… Differences do not matter. Community will always mean more.
3. Keep the faith.
I remember years ago, when my youngest son had to be moved to critical care because he could not breathe on his own. As the doctor shared the depth of the then-current, potentially dire diagnosis, I listened, asked questions for clarity, and remained calm. When the physician exited the room, one nurse remained, dumbfounded and shaking her head… “I don’t get it. I don’t understand how you could stay so calm.”
I don’t remember being a person of many words that day. I simply responded, “There’s a reason I have the faith that I do. I’m not going to give up on that now.”
4. Say your prayers.
Over the years I’ve learned prayer is a bit of a two way street. That’s probably why the Intramuralist isn’t a fan of the “thoughts & prayers” memes in which the prayers part is crossed out. I get the frustration with inaction, but I’d never want to be in a position in which I denied the power of prayer. Granted, sometimes it’s easiest to deny what we don’t understand. I suspect that prompts me to pray a little more.
5. Omit the politics.
I know this is not popular with the passionate, but there is a time for partisan pursuits, and that is not now. It only fuels denigration and disrespect; it can also fuel both denial and fear, and it possibly even slows solution. A wiser approach would be coming together for a common purpose — rooting for each of our leaders to succeed.
6. Recognize the beauty of rest.
I remember hearing someone say years ago, “If Satan can’t make us bad, he’ll make us busy.” Sometimes we’re so busy, we miss the simple joys in life… the small touches, kind acts, quiet times, and time with family. I said it previously and I’ll say it again: the wisest people I know have learned the unforced rhythms of rest. They intentionally stop or slow down, recognizing the rejuvenating gift.
And 7. Utilize leisure well.
What are those things you love to do but typically don’t take the time to do? Maybe read a book. Play a game. Put together a puzzle or two. Write a letter. Take a bath. Binge watch “The Office.” Call that old high school friend. Be intentional.
What else will I do?
Well, I have a confession to make.
Embarrassing as this is to at this life stage finally confess and publicly share, I have never — and I do mean never — been able to do a cartwheel. All growing up, I watched so many of my middle and high school friends — Amy, Andy, Kevin, Kristen, Jerry, Jill, Paula, Peggy, Steve and more — hop, leap, and seemingly jump circles all around me! But still… I could never do a cartwheel.
Maybe this week I’ll try.