The Flight of the Arrow: A Way of Framing Responses to COVID-19
By William D. Parham, Ph.D., ABPP
Over the past several weeks, there hasn’t been a day gone by without hearing updates and news about COVID-19. Reports from science, medical, and public health officials regarding important advances in the race to develop a vaccine have been key to keeping spirits high and hopeful. News of still climbing numbers of active cases, projections of asymptomatic persons, heightened visibility of vulnerable ethnic and elderly populations, convulsing economies, canceled ceremonies, and deaths without final good-byes continue to awaken uncertainties about when life will stabilize. Prolonged forced confinements, restricted movements, social spacing, and 20-second hand washings keep people feeling alarmed, anchored in suspense, and ensnared in one of life’s unparalleled setbacks.
Consider for a moment, by whatever means, that what feels like a setback, might actually be a setup for future opportunities that exceed personal hopes, dreams and desires. An arrow barely drawn back by the archer flies only a few feet away from the bow on which it was drawn. However, an arrow drawn back to its maximum capacity, when released, takes flight straight, true, and far. If aimed at a target, even from quite a distance, a skilled archer when relaxed, calm, and focused usually hits the intended bull’s eye.
The spectrum and ranges of emotional distress experienced by adults, children, and elders in response to the unfurling seriousness of COVID-19 are real. The emotional agitation can feel like a bigger setback and more intense the longer the crisis goes on. For some people, lived experiences of a crisis can also unlock painful and traumatic memories of the past, making their current journeys through this trial feel more burdensome and exhausting. Sometimes memories sneak out of our eyes, roll down our cheeks, and find resolve in their release. And, I am reminded that in the chaos and confusion of current circumstances, quiet strength, steadfast determination, and the audacity to hope are often found.
Through it all, we can become archers setting our sites on targets of good fortune believing that obstacles in our way to surviving this pandemic are things we see only when we take our eyes off the goal. Targets worth our aim might include: (a) believing that better days are ahead; (b) professing that lessons learned from these challenges will result in a crisper clarity of vision; and (c) conceding that we must leave the life we planned, in order to find the one waiting for us. In short, are we really off track relative to our current life’s pursuits, or are we now on track and finally pursuing those things that really matter? So together, let’s plan, prepare, and expect to get to the other side of this pandemic. Know that the odds of hitting our target go up dramatically when we aim at it with intention and focus. And finally, remember that courage is not having the strength to go on, its going on when we feel we don’t have the strength. Stay strong, be well, and be safe!
Until next time …