Ours to decide and ours to control

Many COVID-induced restrictions are being lifted with people relishing a return to normality, but with cautionary responses.

It has been a taxing campaign battling this predatory virus. I believe the time is due to move our lives back into one in which we journey onward with each of us exerting sincere efforts to re-establish our priorities. Let’s move forward with positive intentions.

My grandfather was fond of saying “you got to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.” Our mutual challenges are to strive for a sense of re-establishing control over our actions; we each need a purpose, a priority within our days. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience stated: “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.”

The weight of establishing contentment with life falls directly upon our personal shoulders. I intentionally did not use the word “happiness” because I believe that word is over rated. It is my belief that the lure for perpetual happiness is one fostered by advertisements and snake-oil salespeople. Rather than longing for bigger, better or newer, we need to learn to build enjoyment into our current circumstances; strive for a sense of control over our actions; rethink those humdrum moments of our lives.

When we consider the existences of our forebearers we are very fortunate to live within these times. If we also factor in horrendous conditions present within other countries we should recognize how privileged we are to live in Canada. It is our on-going challenges to appreciate what we have and to recognize our many blessed circumstances and multiple opportunities.

Years ago I met the veteran who was with my Uncle Jack when he was killed in action during World War Two. My question to this elderly, former soldier was how did they endure those times of extreme violence? His reply: “We lived one day at a time. We did not worry about tomorrow; our goal was to survive that day.” In comparison, we are not attempting to survive as in their uncertain days but most of us have choices for enabling our times to be ones that give us contentment.

The challenge for each of us is to accept the reality that life moves onward. Mother Nature and Father Time are always present within our existences. We need to take the bad with the good but focus on the good. The energy we exert to enable our experiences to be as enjoyable as possible is ours to control.

I accept the fact that this pandemic’s requirements are entering a different stage but I refuse to hunker down to simply exist. Where necessary, I can redefine what makes me want to get out of bed thereby enabling me to look forward to the days ahead with a positive and productive attitude.

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, stated that during his 26 years as a political prisoner, he frequently referred to William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus as a source for personal inspiration during his years of imprisonment. I repeat only the final two lines: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” I am not comparing our lives to imprisonment but intending to emphasize how we spend our days are very much, in most cases, ours to decide and ours to control.

Ray Bates

Guysborough (Sedabooktook)