Bracing for Impact

Bracing for Impact

Recently I listened to a series of lectures on “The Marks of Maturity” that referenced a book I read years ago, Death Be Not Proud. The author and father of Johnny Gunther, who died at age seventeen from a malignant brain tumor, noted these words his son had scribbled in a notebook:

Contentment with the universe. Discontentment with the world.

The lecturer contended that only by reaching and stretching toward the contentment of the universe can we deal with the discontent we have with the world.


Content with the universe. Discontent with the world.

Somehow those words gave me a new vocabulary for describing my mid-pandemic, pre-election, ever-present battle with uncertainty that resists definition, much less management.

Discontentment permeates our world. Our adaptive skills are being tested in so many ways that it’s hard to find sustained contentment in daily living.

We are tired. And tired of being tired.

Most of us are exhausted in ways we don’t even recognize until someone points it out. Apparently, we have COVID exhaustion, compliance exhaustion, and even compassion exhaustion.

The first two may be self-explanatory, but the last one surprised me. When I thought about it though, I must admit I’m growing weary of “blessing people’s hearts,” trying to excuse rudeness, mistakes, and bad behavior in general.

Our stamina for enduring ongoing stress is getting fragile while the necessity to strengthen ourselves is building. Many days I feel like I’m bracing for impact.

Yet, despite our worldly chaos, the sun comes up. The stars shine. There is contentment beyond this world’s discontent. And when I take the time to reflect on that, to engage in that, to rest in the peace of the universe, today’s discontentment becomes a bit more manageable.

So how do we shift from our world of discontent to the universe of contentment?

Author Gretchen Rubin suggests creating a mental “area of refuge.” Find thoughts and memories that make you happy or bring you joy and turn to them when you find yourself dwelling on bad feelings.

My favorite refuge is a beach memory. Myrtle Beach. It’s in the early ’70s when our family was still five and I could still run on the beach, wiggle my toes in the sand, and surf the waves with both my sister and brother. It was a time of great contentment.

But sometimes memories aren’t enough. We may need to reach and stretch to create new experiences within the limitations that we must accept.

Recently my son and his fiancée (and their dog, Rooney) traveled 15 hours to spend 10 days with my daughter and her family.

Peter, Meredith, and Rooney

Peter, Meredith, and Rooney

Three days later, my nephew and his wife (and their dog, Archie) traveled 11 hours to spend 15 days there.

Adam, Maggie, and Archie

Adam, Maggie, and Archie

In pre-pandemic living, would that ever have been possible to spend that much time together?

Grateful for flexible jobs that can be done remotely, strong internet signals, and dog-welcoming relatives who share the same commitment to safe living,

Brian, Brittany, Blakely, Beckett, and baby Baxter

Brian, Brittany, Blakely, Beckett, and baby Baxter

these families found ways to still be family despite the worldly discontent.

Who knew we could be so creative in our connectedness?

Our Pathfinders for Autism’s Virtual Zoo Run connected 25 of our family members from 8 states as we masked up and ran, walked, and wheeled separately, but together in spirit, for Team TTi to honor Madison, my 28-year-old daughter with autism.

Team TTi to honor Madison

And most recently, I was asked to help with a promo for our upcoming Un-Gala, the pinnacle of our 20th-year celebration that was supposed to be a 500-person black-tie event. (Now, we will connect via ZOOM for an “Oscar-like” virtual evening.)

Staying true to my commitment to self-isolate, I recorded this selfie video (expertly edited by Media Star Promotions) with my co-star, Tripp, my ever-photogenic puggle.

Isn’t that a hoot?

But the most rewarding experience was when the production team came to my home to tape a social media video. I not only participated in a project that had a beginning, a middle, and an end (my favorite way to get through COVID, I was a part of something larger than my life.

I interacted with others (two crew and a fellow actor), learned about production protocols (had to repeat my lines three times to allow for editing), and had my earlier video work proclaimed “creative” by a professional. (Tripp even got a compliment!)

These new experiences of creative connectedness and learning will be joining my beach memories in my area of refuge. I’m sure I’ll be visiting it often in the coming days.

How about you? Are you bracing for impact? What stories of refuge and contentment do you have to sustain you? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

And on we go. Keep looking up!

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. For more info on Pathfinders for Autism’s 20th Anniversary Un-Gala on 9/14/20, click HERE. Access passes begin at only $20!

P.P.S. The deadline for Party Boxes is Friday, October 30.

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