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Beginning to emerge from the pandemic with new hope, meaning

By Light Bailey German
Special to the American-Statesman
Light Bailey German is the director of writing and reading skills development at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

 I hook my mask behind my ears.  I walk into my small grocery store and look around. No one else is wearing a mask. I quickly remove mine and slip it into my pocket.

This is the perfect metaphor for my feelings. The worst of the pandemic seems to have passed, but I am in limbo — not sure of what protection to wear, where to go next, how closely to interact with others, or how to plan for the future. 

I know that I am not alone in this.

For the past two years, we have known the rules:  Stay stationed at home. Don’t go the symphony or theater. Pick up your groceries curbside. Eat mostly what you — yourself — have cooked. Don’t travel unless you have to. Meet with friends sparingly, and meet classes only on Zoom.

Now we have choices to make. I, personally, have almost forgotten how to choose.

We learned in a college philosophy class that to make an existential decision was to define ourselves and thus to set us on our path to authenticity. I am here, 60 years later, putting my foot on a new path, learning all over again how to make decisions.

You might find yourself in my same position.

Here is what I am experiencing: Fear and uncertainty, particularly about the future. 

What have I done to try and stabilize myself? I have made travel arrangements for late this summer. However, I have also bought insurance for the possibility of cancellation.  I am even questioning making reservations for summer of 2022. 

I have made plans with friends and family, but I am also fearful that, because of their distance from me, there are some beloved friends and family I will never be able to see again — in person.  

 This is what I have decided to make my life meaningful: 

1) Follow my usual morning reading of positivity, such as Thich Nat Hahn’s "Peace is Every Step" and Sarah Ban Breathnach’s "Simple Abundance."  

2) Practice my creativity, following Julia Cameron’s "The Artist’s Way."

3) Telephone one important friend who is far away. 

4) Participate in one volunteer activity.  

5) Prepare for my students.

6) And nurture my home and family.

To have goals and plans for this moment, I have a positive attitude toward the future and am now less afraid of what it may portend.

Light Bailey German is the director of writing and reading skills development at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.