There is an old expression that says that the only two things that we are certain of in life are death and taxes.
This is no doubt true in a modern society where we live in collective communities where we make contributions to the common good. But I think that there are still parts of the world that don’t have taxes. I am sure that in parts of the Amazon the natives pay no tax although their contribution to the collective by hunting, fishing or farming might be a form of taxation.
The odd part of this expression to me has always been what was left out of this saying. The great irony of life is that one of its certainties is uncertainty.
And these days, of Covid 19 pandemic where all of the things we have grown to rely on from personal safety and health to free movement and propinquity to food supply and faith in government institutions are no longer certainties, uncertainty plays a greater role than ever.
I guess we could rail against the uncertainty in our lives. Especially these days. Or we could look at as what it is: A gift.
After all, It was certainly uncertainty that brought my wife into my life. As she and I have discussed many times it took many uncertainties for us to meet. It took me leaving a job, a ship being wrecked on rocks in Italy, two fathers struggling in their last months, a persistent sister and many other uncertainties for us to appear to each other at just the right time, in just the right frame of mind to fall in love.
The great joy of us, an aura that surrounds our love, is in the unlikelihood that it would happen.
It is also one of my life’s great irony is that a relationship that was born out of the uncertainties of life is one of the only things in life I can fully rely on. Even in the uncertainty of the world today.
Perhaps the “blessing” the uncharted territory of a world changed forever by a tiny bit of protein and fat called Covid 19 is it the gives us a chance to see the things we often take for granted with new appreciation. Things like:
• Our families. Mine are far away and the chance of my seeing my sister and her kids and even my brother and his family any time soon is remote. I worry about them and miss them and it has made me contemplate what life without them would be like. Which in turn has made me love them more and put into the attic any annoyances and squabbles we have ever had.
• Health care providers. I don’t know about you but even though I appreciated what physicians and nurses did, I took seeing them for granted. They were their to help me. Seeing how they have stepped up by putting their lives on the line for us and the devotion they have shown to find a cure for this evil piece of biological flotsam has demonstrated what heroes they are. I don’t think I will ever be able to see them without wanting to hang a medal around their necks.
• Health care workers. The lowest paid workers in the health care system often populated by immigrants and others who have a hard time finding work elsewhere are now helping make sure the world is saved. I want to thank everyone of them and when it is safe to do so again hug them. I want them to get a raise.
• Grocery Store workers. Underpaid, and almost never thanked before this crisis these folks are making sure that people don’t starve while sheltering in place. They allow us to survive while they literally put their health and wellbeing and that of their families on the line all while earning a minimum wage. They are on my hug list as well.
• The folks that deliver to me Ben and Jerry’s here in Rio. Really I would be lost without them but my admiration really go out to all the food delivery people who help feed us because lets be honest we have been doing a lot of stress eating.
• My friends. They have always been my rock and they still are. They pick me up when I am low, they are kind when I need a lift, they make me laugh often when I want to cry. I have always appreciated them, but this crisis has reminded me of the love I have for them and how vital they are to my happiness.
• What I have. Here in Rio my wife and I live in a beautiful home separated from the rest of the world by two walls. But just beyond our gates are favellas or institutional slums where folks live in squalor. We can afford to hunker down and wait for the pandemic to pass but those in the favella’s must work and put themselves in harms way every day. Should my wife or I become ill we will have the best medical care possible. They will have to wait on long lines and receive medical care that is inadequate and underfunded. I know I will eat and eat well. They don’t
To name just a few things that I appreciate more today than I did a month ago.
We can continue to fear the uncertainty of our pandemicized world. I think that is reasonable. Clearly there is a lot to fear. But we can also embrace the uncertainty knowing that it will give us gifts and new appreciations.
For me, every time I look at my wife I see the joy life’s uncertainties can bring so it is easier for me to embrace the positive. But I hope you can too.