by Ralph Ables, LMSW, NGPG Social Worker
How our lives have changed in such a short time! A few months ago, we were going out to eat, celebrating with friends and going to work or school. There were days playing in the park, going to the movies, and celebrating the holidays. But today, large parts of our lives have completely changed due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Many have been out of work or are working fewer hours, children are out of school, and we are all practicing social distancing or even quarantine. This sure is a difficult time!
But have you ever gone through a hard time before in your life? Maybe you went on a difficult trip not knowing how long it was going to last or you started a hard job without knowing exactly how to do it. How did you get through these other difficulties? What strategies or characteristics served you well during those days? Although you may not know it, you probably already know a lot about adaptability and determination.
A long time ago, when I was ten years old and living in Argentina, I traveled with my family to a camp to spend a few weeks during the summer. One afternoon, my family got together with several other families who were there, and we all decided to go to the small town that was about 20 kilometers from the camp. The idea was to go out for dinner and for a walk. I got in the car of a friend’s family and we all went off to have a good time. We ate in a nice restaurant, went by an ice cream parlor, and then the kids went to a video game arcade to play. I must have been lost in a video game for a long time because, when I finally looked up to see where my friends were, they were all gone. I searched again at the ice cream parlor and the restaurant, but I couldn’t find any familiar faces. After walking the sidewalks of the small town for a few more minutes, I realized the inescapable: everyone had gone back to the camp and had left me in town.
Luckily, I remembered the way back to the camp, so I began to walk in that direction. After about fifteen minutes of walking, I started leaving behind the buildings of the small town. In about thirty more minutes, the city lights began to fade, and I began to feel the full darkness of the night like an absolute presence. I focused on just my feet and the steps that I was taking. I noticed that the moonlight lit up my steps enough to see. I started singing a repetitive song. I stopped thinking about how far I had to walk and focused on nothing more on my steps and the words of the song. So, an hour went by and then two. One step at a time four or five hours passed and finally I could see the small houses that formed the camp where my family was staying. I went into my family’s cabin, it must have been two or three in the morning, and I fell exhausted into my bed.
Occasionally I remember that night and the adaptability and determination I had at that young age. Since that night, in my forty-four years, I have been through a lot of difficulties, some were my fault, others were not. But the experience of that night has served me as a reminder of the inner strength that I have and what I need to do to overcome any difficulty: knowing the way and focusing on one step at a time.
Surely, you’ve also been through a difficult experience that stands out in your memory. What lessons did your experience teach you? What did you learn about yourself that might work very well for you today? Do you have strength, endurance, determination, adaptability and the desire to live the best life that you can for yourself and for your family? I think you do!
And fortunately, we already know the way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an excellent resource for the best coronavirus prevention measures. A detailed and simple guide can be found on the website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
So, we already know the way. Now we just have to focus on the steps and maintain that same attitude of adaptability and determination that has helped us so much in other difficult times. I know we can overcome this time of coronavirus! And I also think that we already have everything we need to be able to overcome it. We learned it many years ago!