I do not know what the last drop in the glass was but this last weekend I finally felt the frustration of the current situation with the corona growing inside me.
Physical tiredness or emotional tiredness?
It might have been our respective family losses in Europe, the worries with Matilda, the sleepless nights when I thought that she will not make it through the night, or the accumulation of all of these. In the end, tiredness is the worst enemy of clarity of thought.
Sometime in the last couple of weeks, I remember telling Frank that I could cope with only one emergency per day.
I think that it was the day that I had to run with Matilda to the local vet to keep her alive and almost had to run with Frank to the hospital after he cut himself with the machete. All the while when we were expected to be woken up at any time by the caretaker of the home to take his wife to the hospital to give birth (we are one of the few with a car in the neighborhood).
Half-full or half-empty glass?
When the Corona crises started, I thought that it will take a couple of months “max” to return to normality. In terms of our plans, it meant that we would need to work as volunteers from home instead of at the office or the biological station.
I could cope with that, I thought. It was and still is a bummer that we cannot take part in the turtle patrols or the project of marine pastures, that we could not interact with the staff at Osa Conservation at the station or that we could not do interviews face to face. But all in all, it didn’t feel bad at all.
My unconscious strategy has been to focus on the positive things and see the glass half full. We are very privileged. Our confinement is in a house with a very large garden, we have a small forest behind the house teaming with wildlife, all for ourselves to enjoy, we can walk to the beach, eat on the porch while watching monkeys and macaws and spend our day on flipflops. Even when I am writing these lines, I realize how privileged we are. Very much so.
So, why I am suddenly so restless?
Apart from the physical tiredness of the sleepless nights during the last weeks, I am starting to feel the psychological tiredness.
The tiredness of this constant uncertainty about the future.
I am trying to learn to live by the day, but I am struggling to do so. Deep in my heart, I am a planner. I love to make plans. We spent a year and a half planning this sabbatical: where we wanted to go, what we wanted to do, what we wanted to learn.
Until now, we have been able to follow our plan, with adjustments and deviations, but still following the plan. We are where we planned to be and volunteering for the organization that we wanted to.
But our plans were to volunteer for three months, take a month to travel around, and then start our second volunteer work. And there is where I hit the wall. Not only because it seems rather uncertain that we will be able to travel around (all protected areas are still closed, and so are the beaches, hotels and tour operators) but because the organization where we planned to do our second volunteer work is also closed and is not accepting volunteer work. As are all the other NGOs that we know. So, suddenly, I see the glass half empty. Even when rationally I know that we cannot complain at all.
So what has planning to do with positive thinking?
I guess that I have been able to keep up with positive thinking during the confinement until I hit my wall. In my case, the wall is dealing with uncertainty and probably living without a plan, just by the ear. For others, it might be the inability to meet friends or to do sports.
The irony is that learning to cope with uncertainty and living by the ear was one of the things that I had planned to learn this year. Maybe the universe was listening after all…and I am just getting what I wished for. The opportunity to learn how to cope with uncertainty.
So, do you have any personal tricks or suggestions on how to cope with uncertainty, and keep a good spirit all the way?.