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Calm • Anxiety

Thoughts for the Storm

– ACCEPT: We are a miraculous, unlikely fragile species in a mysteriously oxygenated corner of the universe. We have never been and never will be complete masters of our circumstances, we remain invariably at the mercy of awesome uncontrollable forces to which we should submit with a measure of grace.

– CONCEDE: Our impotence before events, the powerlessness of our mighty brains, the humbling inflicted on us by nature, our vulnerability to the absurdities of microbial life.

– LET GO: of ideals of perfection, of uncreased lives and flawless trajectories. We should expect – regularly – to be taken wholly by surprise.

– NO PERSECUTION: None of it was done with us in mind. We have not been singled out. We may be victims; we were never targets.

– LOVE: Our fellow broken humans; hold out a hand to our similarly scared and confused neighbours, build friendships around the always-surprising and blessed discovery of mutual vulnerability.

– SERVE: Gain relief from how much richer it is to love than to be loved and how much more gratifying to serve than to be served. Take a holiday from the gruelling search for self-fulfilment in the name of that infinitely easier goal: the reassurance and relief of others.

– PESSIMISM: Gain peace of mind not by expecting the best, but by scoping out the very worst and making oneself at peace in its grimmest recesses. Drain terror of its unexamined dimensions. Bore yourself out of fear.

– APPRECIATE: especially birdsong, the drawings of the under sevens, pictures of palm trees, lemons and the memories of beaches and hugs.

– LAUGH: At the absurdity of the shitshow; insist on defiant humour on the way to the gallows.

– SELF-FORGIVENESS: For our inability to be exactly as we would wish and as calm and intelligent as we would hope. It is normal (and almost sane) to be demented most of the time.

– SMALL PLEASURES: A day at a time; with a special place for modest pleasures: the sight of flowers, chocolate, hot baths and very dark jokes with unshockable friends.

We come from a species that, in only a few hundred thousand years, reached a dazzling understanding of existence, built some stupendous machines and learnt to think of itself as in charge. We may need to accept the need to feel, in the late hours, a little bit scared – and for a time, very very small.

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