I read something today, this umpteeth day of social distancing and conducting multiple meetings via Zoom.
Planning for the future is a luxury of the privileged.
It appeared in an article about the upending of family life due to the coronavirus pandemic, and how this mom had just wiped clean the family calendar because nothing was happening. Nothing that mattered before mattered in the same way now.
And it made me think, about my own upbringing, about financial instability and relational instability in our home and volatility and how I knew if I was smart I wouldn’t dare to dream or to plan.
Nothing was within my control.
This whole experience has felt strangely familiar in a lot of ways, similar to when I found myself kicked out of college because my dad gambled my academic and financial future on his plan to sell a lot of Amway detergent (read: didn’t want to pay his taxes, a requirement for the financial aid form).
It was the best year of my college life. I had a leadership position on campus, a job at the local newspaper, and tons of friends (hard for me). And then I got the letter from the registrar, and the bursar and all the people saying I had to leave. Long story short, I conned another couple months out of them and finished the semester, but the debt I took home with me from that one semester (he’d made not one payment, and I had exhausted my contribution from summer factory work) would keep me out of school for the next five years.
Anyway, when I was driving home from the office on that last day in our life “before all of this”, I thought of that. How this felt like that. And how I was disappointed and worried, but I knew that things will be how they are, maybe even how they should be. That things would be hard, and there would be loss, but I would find meaning, and growth and I would do what I could do to help my friends and families find the same.
Then today I saw that phrase: Planning is a luxury for the privileged. I realized how lucky I had been, how blessed my family has become. And I realized how there was still, deep in the recesses of my brain, that understanding that nothing is permanent, and how loosely I still hold on to a lot of things. Hubby and I are trying to build a new house, a project started “before all of this” and it’s getting complicated, more so because of this. And I know that if it doesn’t happen, we will survive. I hope we can, but if we can’t, we’ll survive. I love my job. But if it went away, I would figure it out.
Again, the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to St. Matthew:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I want to write this tonight as some encouragement, to my scrappy, hustling brothers and sisters who know disappointment, that deep disappointment that comes with grief, from the loss of a thing that was actually yours.
You have special skills to use at this time. You know how to do this. You know that smart people always used pencil on the calendars anyway. You know that there will be an illness, an accident, a job loss, a divorce, a something. It will get in the way.
And you know that you will be OK.
You need to know that.
You will be. We will be.
It will be.