If you can read this, you are doing better than millions of others in America. You are alive and well.
Even if you have lost your job or business and are struggling to pay the bills, remember that you survived the past year of this invisible war. This means that you can continue to survive, even though you’re not sure how, and you can dream of and build a better tomorrow.
All survivors have one thing in common. They have a desire to do something — whether it’s seeing people they love, being entertained, playing sports and games with others, or just telling the story of how they did it. Those who survived concentration camps during World War II were found to have the same kind of desires. Dreams have a lot of power.
Many of my dreams have been put on hold, and being a realist, I know that some of what I wanted to do will probably never happen. I don’t think that my fantasy of being a stand-up shrink on “Saturday Night Live” will occur in this lifetime. (But my line is open.)
There are other dreams that are more difficult to let go of, but doing it is not as hard as letting go of the people who did not survive this plague.
I have a wall of memories, and the pictures of friends I have lost are all over it, right next to my vaccination card.
And no, it isn’t over. There is hope, then doubt, then hope again as the vaccines get adjusted for the new variants. Mask wearing and social distancing are still in vogue, and hand sanitizer gets passed around like a joint at a Grateful Dead concert.
It’s a world that most of us never imagined. I’ve watched a lot of virus flicks over the years, some of them too true to life to be amusing. I now try to keep anxiety-provoking elements from entering my life, but I still have to watch the news.
Fortunately, I have discovered that by about 5 p.m., all the news of the day has already been disseminated, so I turn it off because I really only need to hear it once.
Music has greatly helped many people during this difficult time. It has a lot of healing and calming power, but I choose wisely and am not listening to much Metallica these days. Mozart and acoustic guitar seem to call to me now. I also enjoy playing guitar, but knowing that I’ll probably never perform again has made it different.
Again, when you don’t have goals, it’s hard to enjoy life or what you are doing at the moment, so now I’m writing more music, and at least I can put it out there. Collaborating with other musicians via the Internet has also given me another way to enjoy this important part of my life.
We all have to pivot, at least for the rest of the year. The easiest way to decide what you need to do is to look at what has changed and to find ways to make those changes work for you.
Life will never be the same, but ultimately life is about change. Your talent will survive this, if you do. We all have to rebuild parts of our lives. It’s having the ability and the will to do so that will get you through this and to where you want to go.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including “Visualization For Success — 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org