Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Am I keeping a sturdy mind on the task at hand?
As if magic, this quote from Marcus Aurelius appeared in the introduction to this week’s topics:
Don’t let your reflections on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don’t fill your mind with all of the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why it’s so unbearable and can’t be survived.
It really does come down to incremental progression. I know this works from my experience pursuing some big goals–such as weight loss–this way. In the current situation, having accepted that I cannot control how fast vaccines arrive, as well as the necessary fact that on the priority list for those to be vaccinated, I am nowhere near the top (being neither elderly or an essential worker of any kind), I’ve been tempering my expectations for this year towards the conservative. I have been training my mind to think of where I was one year ago, and that one year from now is not so long at all. Yet each of those days still presents opportunities for me to grow and flourish.
I realized last night that I’ve now passed the 100 day mark again for daily writing. I managed to get there the first time starting in March, and backed off in June. At that point, things were looking up. The museum where I volunteer had just reopened. We were excitedly looking to form a bubble with friends. It was summer, and there were hikes on trails and mini-golf to look forward to, even a one-night trip to Niagara Falls for our anniversary. Right now, there’s none of that, and it’s hard. But I got through it the first time. I learned how to meet the personal challenges this crisis has presented. It really is, for me, just more of the same. For instance, in the face of the more transmissible new variants, what am I doing? What I’m not doing is panicking and deciding to double up my masks–because all of my masks already have three layers, and I know no health authority suggesting that six-layer masks are necessary. I’m not suddenly panicked about grocery shopping–because I have already done what’s necessary to stay safe in stores, including choosing to shop at less-busy times and only in stores where I see good adherence to guidelines. On the other hand, I will confess I am now feeling some degree of jealousy for the speed of vaccine rollout in the US. Friends are getting the vaccine–not just the frail elderly and people working in hospitals and long term care homes, like here in Ontario, but teachers, younger elderly people, and even people who are volunteering time in community service in exchange for vaccine. People are talking about what category they’re in and where they are on the list, and speculating as to how many weeks or months they’ll wait, and here, we don’t even have a list, which is why I just end up assuming the worst (September, supposedly) and hoping for better.
But things are made more difficult right now by the drudgery of this time of year. The days are short, the snow isn’t charming right now, it’s really too cold to walk the trails, and the holidays–such as they were this year–are long gone. Friend after friend is reporting a low ebb in their creativity. While my enthusiasm for my current embroidery projects is still on overdrive–especially given the milestone I just reached–I’ve struggled a little with these updates this week. But oddly enough, I’m actually writing more on the writing prompts right now–maybe because things don’t feel easy at the moment.
But it’s Friday. I just watched an exciting episode of WandaVision where we’re finally getting more of a sense of what’s going on. I’ve ordered a very neat art print from an artist friend of mine, as well as the scores for Shostakovich’s Symphonies no. 5 and 8. I’m getting back to War and Peace — I’ve already read about 100 pages this evening, and will continue after I’m done writing; I now have just over 200 pages left. And the reason why I’m pushing through with War and Peace is because the big embroidery project is done –at least the stitching (I am still waiting on the markers to finish the background). I’m going to take a look at it again tomorrow to determine whether it needs any last tweaks, and I won’t be completely satisfied until it’s done and stretched, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
Now, to pick a marginalia cat for a gift exchange project…