It seems terrible now. It does, of course. How could it not? Each day the number of new reported cases comes in. Each day the reports of overloaded hospitals increase. The markets continue to stumble—no, fall headfirst—into a major recession.
You’re not working. You are afraid. But this is partly because you are right in the thick of it—you are looking at it up close. If we can zoom out, just a tad, we get some perspective. We are reminded that this too shall pass, that we will survive.
Hemingway opens The Sun Also Rises—set after a terrible war, which was then followed by a terrible pandemic, with all sorts of ordinary individual tragedy happening in between—with one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, one that sounds like it could have been written by Marcus Aurelius:
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever…The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose…
Each day since this crisis began, the sun has risen and set. The moon has come out and shone. The grass has been wet with dew. Babies have been born. People have had ideas. People have fallen in love. This is as true now as it was during the Antonine Plague that Marcus Aurelius endured for 15 years, and it was true after, and it will be true forever.
It’s not much comfort to know this, but it is some. The beat goes on. The rhythm of life continues, even if substantially changed. We must find a way to take solace in this, to continue on ourselves. We will get through this, as we have always gotten through difficult times. There will be a new normal. We will adapt and adjust.
Life will abideth forever, so there is no reason to get angry or afraid or bitter. Just hang on. Do the best you can. Be your best self and play the cards you’ve been dealt.