With the onslaught of COVID-19, our personal agendas have been fed through the paper shredder and hauled away with the recyclables, begging to be morphed into something more useful, meaningful, and good. We’re left empty-handed with our forehead pressed against the window as we longingly watch the truck fade to a dot on the horizon. Now what? we think to ourselves. The world has stopped. Our plans are cancelled for the foreseeable future. Work has come to a screeching halt for most, and money isn’t coming in.

The most jarring change for many of us during this early stage is that in a culture where being busy is a status symbol, we’ve become status-less, and a lot of us don’t know what to do with our free hands. Sure, there’s still plenty to be done at home—children to teach, chores to do, news to absorb, and fear to feed. There’s Netflix to binge, alcohol to numb us, and a pantry stocked with un-necessities that will attempt to keep us full of anything other than our own fear. It’s enough to keep us distracted for a time if we let it. But if we allow ourselves to get caught in the stillness for just long enough, and we dig deeper than our fear of the pandemic or of the economic repercussions it will likely have or of being socially distant for longer than we think we can possibly bear, there’s something even more unnerving underneath it all. Most of us have been hustling since we learned how to run, and this is the first time we’ve been forced to stop and ask ourselves what it is we’re running toward. We’re looking around and realizing we might not know the real answer. When the machine slows to a stop, what then is our role? What are we here to do? We’ve been robbed of our most reliable comfort, our busy-ness, and now we’re left to consider who we really are and what it is we’re doing with our lives that’s genuinely meaningful. It’s uncomfortable and hard and scary when we’re uncertain of these things.

Therein lies the real challenge, should we choose to accept it. The way through our uncertainty is to start doing what we can to bring ourselves closer to our truest and purest purpose, even if we’ve yet to discover it. The closer we are to that purpose, the clearer we can see the things that matter and the more whole we become. As whole people, we can then recognize and honor what ties us all together. This expedition calls for us to be both honest and gentle with ourselves and to double down on a promise we once made to live our fullest, most beautiful lives.

So what steps can we take right now that will put us on the path through the uncertainty and toward our purpose?

  1. Take care of our bodies. We need the food we eat to be our medicine, not our stress-relief. Drink water, eat whole foods, exercise daily, get outside, get enough sleep, and limit alcohol so that we feel good physically.
  2. Protect our mental well-being. Meditate, stay connected to loved ones virtually, journal, shut off the news, reach out to a mental health specialist if needed
  3. Nourish our relationships at home. Unplug our devices and connect with the people sitting right next to us. Have a conversation with our spouses that doesn’t involve logistics of any kind. Build a fort with our kids. Dance. Sing. Especially if we’re bad at it.
  4. Give back. Remember that this situation is bigger than our own circumstances alone. Give where we can in whatever way that we can.
  5. Create something. We’re all creative. We just have to practice allowing our creativity to flow. Make something. Paint. Write. Bake. TikTok. Put something that’s ours alone into the world. When we do, we’re exhaling a breath held too long.

It’s in times like this, when the light grows dim, that we have to give it more juice. We’re each being called to do more of what’s real and less of what’s not so that we can live brighter. Will you answer?