There is a practice within the tradition in which someone goes to a holy elder and “asks for a word.” That encounter is, most often, quite terse. It is not a request for an explanation, much less mere speculation. It can, indeed, be no word at all:

Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, came to Scetis one day. The brethren who were assembled said to Abba Pambo, “Say something to the archbishop, so that he may be edified.” The old man said to them, “If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech.”

Source

“The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.” Marcus Aurelius

Such a hard, but needed, standard to live by.

Right now it feels like the future has been put on hold. The world has hit the pause button and no one is sure exactly how the show will run when we hit play again. But it isn’t only the unknowable future that is causing societal (and personal) anxiety, it is also the past. It’s hard not to continually question what we have done both as a society and as individuals. The what-if game is dangerous.

What if China had acted sooner to isolate the outbreak?
What is the U.S. hadn’t rejected the pandemic plans started by Bush and built up through Obama?
What if I didn’t make that slightly risky investment?
What if I really did put aside 6 months emergency money when things were going well?

Between the constant guessing about tomorrow and the never-ending second guessing about the past it’s easy to spin out of control. So maybe it’s better to forget about the past and the future for now and concentrate on what is right in front of me. For now, that’s all we really have.

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
— Lao Tzu

For me this means setting up 3 non-negotiable goals each day. I know I am a better and more grounded person if I manage to read, write and run for at least 30 minutes every day. So in between teaching my classes online and continuing to work with job search clients and writing their resumes, I make reading, writing and running a priority.

This is my present. This is what I can do now to stay sane and productive. Tomorrow will be what it will be.

Quarantine Project- I studied Greek in college and have a basic understanding of conversational French, but as a self professed arm-chair classicist I’ve always felt like I should have at least a rudimentary grasp of Latin. Going to spend some time on Duo-lingo over the next month or so and see how much I can absorb. Fun way to kill time and learn a little.

Feeling guilty that I am not stressed out, annoyed, or overwhelmed. I fully realize this is different for everyone, and I feel for those who are sick, or have family members sick, or if you work in health care, but for me this whole self isolation thing has been quite pleasant so far. Remote teaching has been easy and enjoyable. I have a lot of time to read, write and run. My kids are finding ways to entertain themselves for the most part. I have even finally had time to update all my websites and social media profiles.

I know this can all change in an instant, but I’m leaning in to the enjoyment factor for now.

Perspective helps, especially when it’s historical perspective.

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it—not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.” – Marcus Aurelius

Regular reminders help.