Coping with the unpredictable

What happens when the unpredictable occurs? How do we manage the fears and emotions that it creates? We do best when our environments are predictable and safe. However, that is not how the world is set up. It is unpredictable. We can do our best to make it safe, but it does what it does, and we are thrown off our foundation. We then have to cope with the blast both literally and figuratively.

By now you probably realize I am talking about the Boston Marathon. I was born and raised in Boston. I am a proud Bostonian even though I love my adopted state of Maine and feel every bit a Mainer. However, I remain a Bostonian at heart. Every year while my parents had their store on Beacon Street in Brookline, I watched the Boston Marathon go by. It was always a time that seemed to herald the beginning of spring and warm weather. Even though, ironically, most marathons were run during cold and rainy weather. This ritual event signified the strength and amazing resilience of the human spirit.

As I grew up, I began to know people who ran, and even though it was not something I aspired to do, I still admired those who participated and finished the course. It just seemed to be an exciting and wonderful ritual that we trusted would happen unscathed by the unpredictable world. Our trust has been broken.

In the past years, we appear to be in a cycle where the unpredictable happens more and more often and on a global scale. It creates fear and anxiety about how we can live in a world that seems to be getting less safe and more unpredictable. We worry and try to avoid places that we deem unsafe. However, as we are realizing more and more often, there is no external safe place.

Of course this creates significant anxiety and fear and we find many ways to cope with these uncomfortable feelings. We can blame those that create it; we can live in fear; we can stop going anywhere we think is unsafe, or we can support and help those who have been traumatize, and we can live. Yes, live in the present moment. Everyone of those people who were injured in this unpredictable and scary event will have to cope with the aftermath of this trauma. We will all have to have our faith and trust restored, and the best way to do this is to live in the moment. To learn from it and go forward understanding that this is the nature of the world. Whether the unpredictable is manmade or created by our physical environment, it happens.

So we have to learn how to live in an unpredictable and scary world. When something like this happens, we are more and more aware of our humanity, and search to find ways to cope with this unpredictable and fearful experience. We find ways to be more in control of our situation and environment. In our search, we learn of all the wonderful people who helped and put their own lives at risk. Who invited strangers into their homes, feed and sheltered them. The ones who carried wounded people and soothed their fears. All the police and EMTs who make their living putting their own life on the line daily. All the EMDR therapists in the area who are coordinating treatment for those who have been traumatized. All the well-wishers around the world who share in our sorrows and our hope. We find ways to be in control and realize the only thing we can control is our reaction and behavior.

Isn’t it interesting that a few people can destroy our trust but the majority of people restore it. Most people are good and caring and demonstrate this all the time. But it appears to be human nature that the few who attempt to destroy it get the focus. We do best when we understand that most of the people on this planet are good and kind. When we focus on what is good and kind, it helps us cope with the unpredictable. When we look at all the wonderful people that put their lives on the line everyday, we come back to center. We learn that by choosing what we have control over, it gives us a sense of calm and grounds us.

So we cope by being kind and compassionate, by helping in some way, by living in the present, by choosing our reaction and behavior. Look at the good and beauty in our world. Be part of the solution. Give back in some way to increase the positive energy of this planet.

This does not help the world from being unpredictable, but it helps you have more a sense of control about what you can do.

I offer blessings and prayers to all those involved in this tragedy and hope we can continue to learn how to LIVE with kindness and compassion in an unpredictable world.


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