Take the Next Best Step

An early Christian writer, Basil of Cappadocia once wrote, “All of us have a race to run towards our appointed end.  So, we are all ‘On the Way.’  You are a traveler in this life.  Everything goes past you and is left behind.  Pleasures do not last, but pain is not permanent either.  But, as step succeeds step, enjoy each moment as it comes and then continue on your way.” 

These words appear to be fitting for our season.  With all challenges surrounding the current health risk amidst the global pandemic, it is tempting to allow ourselves to be caught up in the moment and succumb to the anxiety it may provoke.  And, given the constantly changing news, it can be a place where we can get stuck in negativity, perhaps, paralyzed with uncertainty and possibly even find ourselves overreacting; giving in to fits of hysteria where we may make rash decisions.  But, there’s comfort to be had by reflecting on the words above.  Even a global pandemic is a part of our journey “on the way.”  And, no matter what faith or dogma may guide your life, even something as sober as the current COVID-19 virus can be an opportunity for us within our daily path. 

It’s easy during these days to allow our minds to wander to all the “What-Ifs?”  While we do not want to be ignorant, it is important to be grounded daily in the “What Is.”  These are opportunities for us to take back some control.  We can ask ourselves, “What is my focus?”  “What is my need?”  “What is being asked of me, today?”  “What am I capable of and what can I do at this moment that I can look back and say I did the best for myself and my neighbor today?”  If we can make the decisions that best impact us, while being mindful of the impact of our behaviors on others, we have a great chance to make the most of each moment.

The writer adds an important understanding as he concludes, “Enjoy each moment and then continue on your way.”  It’s important to have a certain level of detachment when it comes to day-to-day living.  We run a risk if we become focused only on the moment by moment needs.  What if things aren’t going well?  Sometimes we can get stuck in the muck of negativity and it can cloud our judgment.  One bad thing, which, may be outside of our control, could lead to us making an equally bad reaction to this stressor.  Before we know it, we are caught in a loop responding negatively to more and more negative stressors that soon have nothing to deal with the initial challenge.  That can quickly lead to “all or nothing” thinking and it can spiral from there. 

If we can slow ourselves down and reflect on each next step, we may find that the anxiety of the time may become less impactful and that we may have a better grasp on our day-to-day functioning.  If we can slow down and reflect on our current step, we can then look ahead and ask where I need to step next.  If each next step is still moving towards our end goal, we are on the right track.  If, as it happens sometimes, we take a misstep, it’s okay to acknowledge that misstep and make a correction.  When this is done, we have a unique opportunity to self-reflect, adjust as needed and keep moving.  In days like these, it can be tempting to be caught up in the ever-changing status of the world as well as the pandemic and before we recognize it, we’re wandering around in circles.  That triggers anxiety and before we know it, we can be stuck in a loop.  If we can catch ourselves, self-reflect and focus on our end while being mindful of the present, we have an opportunity to lessen pain and continue our way. 

God Grant You all Peace, Health, and Safety. 

Jacob Hatch: jhatch@lrcjax.org

Licensed Mental Health Therapist  

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