The Forest for The Trees

by Heatherann Franz Woods

No one needs to tell you the world is changing. The novel coronavirus took a swift journey around the world in mere months and by the first week of March the United States was beginning to truly feel its effects. By the third, life as we knew it turned upside down as citizens succumbed, businesses closed and hospital beds filled. Still in disbelief we watch as more industries shut down, streets empty, the numbers of confirmed cases soar and what we thought the future looked like, from graduations to garage sales, birthday celebrations and vacations, blur then go blank on our calendars. And while we manage social distancing, self isolation and quarantine measures, the powers that be address the priority situations: mitigating the public health crisis and preventing a total economic collapse.

Hungry to understand, to sort out feelings and find some solid footing, many people pound their keyboards searching for someone and something to hold accountable. Social media platforms provide fertile ground for blossoming “us vs them” positions where the concerned are certain their unique situation is worse than their neighbor’s or their particular perspective wields more merit because they obviously have more to lose.

Fear is the universal driver and our brain craves the ride. Looking for answers, being afraid, uncertain and frustrated is not only acceptable but hard wired. We are in survival mode. To analyze the threat means to come to a plan of action. Here the unknown has materialized into a solid wall, an aggregate of variables. Plans are constructed and deconstructed daily. It is exhausting.

I propose it is not only our individual responsibility to manage this fear reaction, but also partake in what would be the most amazing opportunity we have had as a society to be present. One hundred percent right here, right now. Because the truth is we have no idea what next week looks like and that really is okay.

Those I have spoken with oscillate between allowing what is so to be and grasping at structure, at normalcy. We are all processing this with differing expectations, actions and goals. Sometimes all in the same day. Some are out of work indefinitely, some are working longer hours or in dangerous positions. Some are sick and some are well. Some are tackling projects perpetually left on lists and others are binge watching streaming apps. Some are reaching out, volunteering or taking part in new ways of commerce and communication and others are holed up at home in their beds waiting it out. Some are eating take out, others are testing their culinary skills and still others are gorging on ramen and Reese’s.

I have been focused on the details but not on the moment. Lost among the trees and unable to see the forest. I struggle with not having a purpose and a plan, not worrying about the fate of my businesses or if my parents or children will fall ill, not using my time sequestered wisely and get every task completed. I feel compelled to be on top of every breaking news article, every step of the stimulus package and every family member’s actions and whereabouts. Then, I am supposed to make sure I practice “self care” on top of it all.

I am coming to realize I do not have to do it all, do it all at once, or do it all alone. What I do now has only the impact I say it has on what tomorrow will bring. I, and each of us, have been gifted the space, time, and community to define a different way to be in life as we emerge from this. We are embracing the impossibility of the current state of our lives while challenges develop daily. If you take a look, people are rising to it. Yes, the world is changing but it is we who have a say in how. Let’s move through today with grace, for ourselves and one another, and tackle “one impossible thing at a time” (Capt. Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek: Picard). Because it is up to us to create what the world will look like on the other side of now.

Heatherann Franz Woods grew up all over, collecting life experiences and old addresses, until settling back in Spokane in December, 1999. A freelance writer, backpacker, gardener, plant lover, painter, mother, grandmother and want to be yogi, she is a self-described renaissance woman, still searching and still learning. She believes at the heart of being human is connection . Of living deliciously. Of being in life as love.

Owners of both Grounded Herbs and Edibles and The Missing Piece Tattoo, she and her husband Zack Woods, are cultivating different ways to participate in the community. With seven collective children and two and a half grand children, they keep busy but always have time for a chat.