There is no escaping the wild, chaotic terrain of the wilderness of life. Resisting the notion that life is fickle, fighting the uncertainty of the wilds of natural life, demanding predictability and expectedness in an otherwise disordered and often confused civilization, are futile. Many seem to believe that we live in an empty, befuddling and often frightening wasteland, one made even more worrisome by COVID-19. 

I’m not one who holds that belief. After reading this, I hope you won’t be either. Sure, we are all facing hardships, questions, struggles. But as you’ve read in these daily sessions of emotional education, problems can highlight purpose. Imagine having a 30,000-feet view of life, looking down on the puzzle of today’s life. That vision allows for clarity, a perspective of how what seems disconnected and pointless is really profoundly intentional, explicable, sensible and advantageous after all. 

Perhaps the wilderness we are in brings with it a purpose of humbling ourselves, helping us see from that airplane view of our life that we are in fact more reliant on one another than we may have believed. The value of the confusing wilderness experience is the opportunity to grow strong in body, mind and spirit. This is a time to discern, shape and form your own strength for certain, to breed your personal character. This is also a time to distinguish those upon whom you can rely and detect those who are untrustworthy and unreliable. 

Thought your job, your finances, your schedule, your favorite places to shop, those social gatherings you just had to attend were all critical to your wellbeing, to your “self-esteem,” to your standing in the world? The wilderness is an opportunity to identify that what you thought was necessary for the “good life” isn’t genuinely necessary after all. You may wisely use the wilderness as a time to recognize and ascertain your true North Star, what, who, is most important in your life. What a gift the wilderness can be for those who use it correctly! 

This time of seeming wilderness helps those with eyes, minds and hearts wide open, learn trust and endurance. We can become more rugged, tough and strong in trusting ourselves, others, and for many, as our currency says, in a Higher Power, in God. Imagine the story you’ll tell your grandchildren or others many, many years from now about the tests and trials you endured through this coronavirus wilderness, and what you learned about yourself. How empowering it can be for them, when you share your guiding force in life’s tribulations and good times as well.

What matters most to you in this current wilderness? Who, or what, is with you during this part of your journey for which you have deep gratitude?  What will you come through this more deeply rooted in? You see, survival is, like everything else in life, a state of mind. What is your mind tuning into during this experience of coronavirus wilderness?

Thriving and extracting all of the good hidden in the wilderness of life, now and always, depends greatly on your ability to withstand emotional stress. Since your mind is always the creator of stress, your mind undoubtedly contains your best survival kit. 

1. Your adaptable, reasoned reactions to what you come upon are far more predictive of your survival than actual dangers or terrain. 

2. Your positive attitude and psychological state of mind, your self-talk, will influence your survival in the wilderness very likely more than anything else. 

3. A healthy mindset will determine your motivation to overcome negative thoughts and fearful predictions, and help you rely on what and who can be most helpful. 

4. When you know that there is real help, there is someone or something upon whom you can safely and fully rely then fear, the big enemy of health living, will be eliminated. 

Faith and trust in the One above for me, is the ultimate Source of support in an often empty, confusing and sometimes frightening wilderness of life. Of course, there are times of questioning and even skepticism. But the “awe and wonder,” the grandeur of that 30,000 feet view allows for lucidity, that simple pause, providing that moment of “Ahh, so THAT’s the reason this happened.” It’s at that instance that I know who my real guide is through this wilderness. 

Like the boy who was flying his kite very high up in the sky when a man stopped and asked him what he was doing. The boy told him he was flying a kite. The man said he couldn’t see any kite in the sky, only saw the boy holding on to a string, and asked the boy how he knew he was flying a kite. The boy simply said, “Mr., I feel the tug.” 

What tug are you feeling through COVID-19, through this wilderness, that’ll get you through with clarity, peace, health and hope?