Reflections on Uncertainty and Courage

Dear Dr. Sylvia, 

I’m not sure how to say this politely. This year has been a frigging mess.  

Not just for me, for so many I know.  

I’ve been lucky that no one in my immediate circle has come down with the virus. Yet, we all know someone who has a friend or colleague who has been hospitalized or worse, loss of life. 

I just don’t have the energy to be happy on Thanksgiving or jolly for Christmas yet to come.  

Thanksgiving is a traditional time to give gratitude and appreciate each other. 

I don’t want to give thanks. I want to complain and sulk and be mad. 

I am afraid of what is yet to come.  

Look. I have enough food and a good position in my organization. 

I’m an experienced leader and I can say all the right things. 

However, I’m stuck! 

I keep fighting feeling crappy and I need some encouragement to move from sad to glad. 

Help, please. 

Signed, 

Lost in the woods 

Dear LOST, 

You are not alone. Almost all my clients are dealing with some form of pandemic traumatic disorder. 

Here is my suggestion for Thanksgiving this year. Whether you have decided to travel to be with family, will be on a Zoom call, or just hunker down with Netflix or a game I suggest you take an hour from your day and simply be silent. 

No, I’m not talking meditate. 

I’m talking just stop talking for one hour on Thursday. 

Here is what to do in that hour. 

This year, especially, it is a time to ask, “What really matters?” 

Too often, in the past, most of us would talk about what we are thankful for without giving it the thought it deserves. 

Perhaps this year with all of us in a similar boat of uncertainty (even with the promise of a vaccine for Covid) the future seems cloudy and even strange. 

Here are the questions to ponder in the silent realm: 

  1. How many shirts do you really need to be well dressed? 
  2. Who can you tell your deepest dreams to? 
  3. What makes you smile, laugh, sigh, sing? 
  4. What do you give willingly to others? 
  5. What will be your legacy? 

Just one hour on this day of giving thanks stay in the silent zone to reassess what really matters. 

As I am writing this (for myself as well as you LOST and everyone else) it made me think about a story that author Kurt Vonnegut told about his friend Joseph Heller. 

Some of my favorites from Vonnegut include Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five

Joe Heller’s book Catch 22 was a national sensation. In fact, the title became a way for people to talk about any vicious cycle in life involving an absurd no-win contradictory choice that ends up badly. 

We have just been going through a “catch 22” time in politics as well as in the pandemic. 

In any case, here is a wonderful story perfect for Thanksgiving time that Kurt Vonnegut told about his friend Joe.  

Kurt and Joe were at a holiday party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island New York. In Vonnegut’s words: 

                           “I said, Joe how does it make you feel to know that our host 

                             Only yesterday may have made more money than your novel 

                             Catch 22 has earned in its entire history? 

                              And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” 

                              And I said, “What on earth could that be Joe?” 

                              And he said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” 

In your time of giving thanks this year, in your time of silence, think about what is enough. 

With deep caring, 

Sylvia 

Sylvia Lafair

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