In the face of chaos and unease, don’t just do something, sit there, advises Sarah-Kate Lynch. Here’s why a moment of stillness can help bring you peace.
You’d think that with Covid and lockdowns and WFH and all that jazz, we’d all be feeling pretty zen in 2021 – but I am not finding this to be the case.
Admittedly, “a state of peace and calm” is not what I usually find myself in anyway but, along with half the population, I currently find myself in “a state of panic and confusion”.
I’d like to blame social media but I’m rarely on it. And since Orange Voldemort departed the throne in the US, I can’t finger-point in that direction as a cause of general unrest.
Is it the lingering pandemic? The vaccine’s on its way, I don’t need to travel and I don’t have children missing out on anything because of coronavirus. I’m not starving or ailing, everyone I know and love is safe, and I’m not, God bless them, a hopeful – or should that be hopeless – first-home buyer.
It’s just that there’s a frisson of frazzle in the air, a whiff of over-commitment, a faint trace of crippling uncertainty.
And there we have it. Uncertainty.
The control freaks among us have long thought that we were in charge, but Covid has shown us that no one is. Maybe Jacinda on a good day, but even she can’t actually throttle the virus with her bare hands – although sometimes she looks like that’s precisely what her thought bubble is considering.
The control freaks among us have long thought that we were in charge, but Covid has shown us that no one is.
The fact of the matter is that certainty is an illusion. Just because we thought we had it, doesn’t mean we did. It just panned out that way until now. It’s a bit like realising that your “perfectly-behaved” dog is only doing what you want him to because, coincidentally, that’s exactly what he felt like doing. But if he feels like chasing a rabbit, you have zero chance of stopping him.
So, there’s uncertainty. And then there’s the state of the planet. The temptation is to stop engaging in that particular world of doomscrolling because it can feel like there’s nothing to be done.
But if you don’t engage, you miss out on the super smart optimists like Bill Gates, who say, “Of course we can solve climate change! It will be the most amazing thing humanity has ever done!” And actually, when you listen to him, you start to believe it – even if it does mean saving up for 20 years to buy a Tesla.
Naturalist David Attenborough, who’s an expert on how brilliantly human beings are destroying the world, also has a delightfully upbeat tip for getting back to one with nature.
“Sit down. Don’t move. Keep quiet. Wait 10 minutes. You’ll be very surprised if something pretty interesting doesn’t happen,” advises the 94-year-old.
So, feeling particularly uncertain one recent overcommitted day, I took my new puppy and sat outside on the front deck for 10 minutes.
Soon enough, three birds flew in and sat on a flax bush, and I could hear more tweeting around the neighbourhood. I heard music playing somewhere, cars tootling past in the background. I could see gannets circling over the rock down at the beach and eventually, a rabbit did actually hop on to the lawn, but went un-chased because the puppy was asleep – although if I’d had a gun…
Anyway, I didn’t have a gun. It was peaceful and calm. And I must do it again. A lot.