As my family concluded its lunch on Day 3 of this Passover holiday, munching on the remaining pieces of matzah from the dish in the middle of the table, we regaled in the famous line from the Seder night: “This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors consumed …” and mused that - even though this unleavened bread was soon converted into the bread of redemption by the end of that evening’s ritual, it continues to afflict us for a subsequent, seven nights in the way it wreaks havoc on our respective digestive systems; and yet, in spite of this foreknowledge (indeed, this Passover is different in the way we have been forced to distance ourselves physically from our dear ones, but the gastronomic effect of the matzah knows no boundaries), we continue to help ourselves to more!
Here is the epitome of where we find ourselves at this season of quarantine: how much of our presence is lived day-to-day (perhaps, even, hour-to-hour) and how much should be zoomed out (no pun intended, with due respect to the platform that has kept so many of us connected) to the bigger picture of next month, next year, next decade?
Human ingenuity is a testimony to the ability to remain thoughtful, rational, even deliberative, in the midst of trying times. It begins with faith, a belief in both a Higher Being and Bigger Plan that is not evident to human eyes and yet transmitted to us through the power of tradition and stories. It continues with science, which accesses “the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment (Oxford English Dictionary).” Our civic leaders have asserted the higher ground of responsibility by imploring us to stay the course of “shelter in place” so that we might “flatten the curve” of this insidious disease’s spread. Our faith leaders have spoken to the classical message of being in this together, through the continuum of the human soul, and that when we feel vulnerable and at our wits’ end, to take refuge in the hands of the Divine Creator, Who brought us into this world and perpetuated us toward this moment for a purpose that must not be flaunted.
Science and faith notwithstanding, we still grapple with the everyday reality of fear, and question how we might possibly escape the isolation, the redundancy, the unknown costs. In my own psyche, I am living through this ordeal by taking everything on a day-to-day basis, forcing myself to slow down the forces of apprehension, analysis, and snap decisions. And yet, I am thinking ahead in my personal life with taking advantage of interest rates to achieve a home refinance package, working with my career coach and current manager to identify how I will add value to the operations of my company when hiring trends return to some semblance of normalcy. This tug-and-pull is what defines me: investing hopeful energy in the long term while taming the fire of the short term.