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Craft A New Future For Yourself

May 4th, 2020 by dk

If we had a poet or playwright among our world leaders, here’s what she or he might say regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:

This will not go on forever, but it may feel as though it has. It will end on November 1, 2021, or maybe sooner. Plan for how you will use the next year and a half for yourself and to benefit those around you.

Many of us remember our school years. This will be like that. This is the midpoint of your junior year. You’ve done this before. Graduating seemed a long way off, but not so far away that you can’t start planning and dreaming. The day will come when pressures lift and you can get on with your life. Plan for it.

Of course we don’t know the actual date when a COVID-19 vaccine will be developed and distributed. Or when we’ll have effective therapeutic drugs to combat the symptoms and reduce the suffering. Or when herd immunity might be achieved. But 18 months isn’t a bad guess. It may be sooner, as if your academic advisor has discovered you can graduate early.

Anything resembling a defined end date makes the daily toil throughout more bearable. We humans like to count backwards. It’s an abstract skill that has paid great dividends. Use it. Tasks naturally fill the space we allot them, so it’s important to know — but also to feel — that this period of waiting will not last forever.

What could you accomplish in 18 months? Quite a bit, but that’s up to you. Some will learn a new language. Others will organize their spice drawer and update their Christmas card list. You get to decide what you will do, and who you will be during this worldwide intermission. Those decisions will determine what you’ll have done and who you’ll become.

Circumstances are not destiny; character is. Greek philosopher Heraclitus made that assertion 2500 years ago. (I did say this would be like being back in school, didn’t I?) These circumstances are a distraction, and a powerful one. But I can tell you this without equivocation. You will not starve. We’ll see to that.

Other maladies will require substantial self-care. Pay attention. You will feel vulnerable in new ways. If that doesn’t happen to you, recognize your privilege and reach out empathetically to others. 

We can exit this time stronger by imagining how we’d like it to be, and then organizing our energies to make it so. Societies’ rules will change until we reach an end point. Schools, factories, travel and large events won’t continue as we’ve known them.

Our own families lived without those things, just six or eight generations ago. If it had killed them, you wouldn’t be here today. Are you really that different from them? Circumstances are a distraction. Character is destiny.

This will have been a great time to be alive — especially considering the alternative. Take advantage of the slower pace, the quarantined quiet, the unshaped darkness of unknowing. Use the extra space to create the future you desire. And then watch yourself walk into it.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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