Looking at the past, embracing the future
10 Jan 2023
By Louise R. Shaw
I’m old enough now that to look at me, you’d think I’d seen it all.
I know I thought I’d seen -- maybe if not all -- quite an awful lot.
But I hadn’t.
These last few years have brought things I thought I’d never see. Things I thought I’d only read about in history books. Things that didn’t even seem possible.
You know what I’m talking about.
A world-wide pandemic. A war in Eastern Europe. An attack on our nation’s capitol.
I know those things happened 100 years ago and 80 years ago and 200 years ago, respectively. But I didn’t expect them to happen now.
I thought we knew better.
I’d already seen inflation. Like many who will read this, I’ve survived interest rates much higher than the ones we’re complaining about today. I’ve seen gas prices go up and go down. I’ve seen energy crises and a Cold War and political upheaval, even assassinations.
My parents lived through a world war, their parents through two.
But my grandchildren, in their short lives, have experienced things relating to the pandemic that I never thought could happen.
Schools closing. Churches closing. Store shelves that are bare. Quarantines. Masks.
Others have faced hospitalizations. In some families, there has been premature and unexpected loss of life.
I had lived for 60 years before things changed so dramatically. How will those challenges impact those so much younger? How will they trust that there are just things you can count on when they’ve been shown so graphically that sometimes there aren’t?
Some changes resulting from the pandemic have been for the better: People working from home. Young couples choosing where to live based on personal preference rather than job opportunities.
Some changes resulting from the pandemic have made us realize how good we usually have it: Having full grocery shelves, seeing that smile on a friendly face, going to church and school and out with friends, traveling.
Some changes have no upside except that they’ve allowed us a closer look at our faith and our resilience. Yes, we have both.
I’m old enough to know that whatever we face, we can get through it. And now our kids know that too.
Living history has its ups and downs, its backwards and forwards.
And as we work through them, we get tougher. And we get more flexible. And we get more appreciative.
And everything we see and experience adds to the rich tapestry that makes our individual lives and our shared history.
So what do you do when you know that all you can expect is that what comes might very well be unexpected?
Whether old or young, you live. You live every moment you’re given, no matter what it brings, in the best way you know how.
You love every opportunity. You relish every day. You adapt to every change and then you adapt back to what was normal when those changes pass.
You appreciate good health and meaningful friendships. You stay grateful for every open restaurant and every airline flight even if it’s full. You feel thankful for every person who works to make toilet paper and every person who works to get it on the shelves. And you feel glad that you can still buy potatoes for Thanksgiving and Legos for Christmas – and hope the extra money you’re spending on them both goes to someone who needs it. And you keep going no matter what.
Live every moment. Love every opportunity. Embrace every change. In gratitude.
Old or young, we can do this. Together.
First published in the Davis Journal on November 19, 2022
Louise R. Shaw