Shannan Butler

During this pandemic, we are faced with uncertainty. Life itself is filled with uncertainty, so how do we get through this?

I find myself thinking a lot—sometimes even too much—about all the unknowns in the future. I think most of us have this innate sense of wanting to know what is going to happen in our future and holding onto the past as our guide. Our hopes, dreams and expectations of what the future holds can fill our minds with worry, doubt and fear as often as hope, faith and excitement.

“Let go and let God,” was a phrase that I have used many times since I attended a church 18 years ago. While I no longer conform to any organized religion, I do believe that our universe is filled with love and light. So when I’m at my best and not in panic mode, I realize one thing about my future: I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Yes, I don’t know. None of us know what the future is going to bring. Accepting that we don’t know and letting go is about all we can do. You can be okay with life and take action, but you can’t control the universe.

I compare the universe to the ocean. The tide is going to do what it wants and we are the surfers along for the ride. The smart thing to do is ride with the wave and don’t fight out of fear. We should try to appreciate and love the opportunity of this journey, letting go of expectations, worries and fears. The fastest way to crash is to turn against that insurmountable wave of water and expect to win. Better to just “go with the flow.”

Remaining positive and content with what we have right here, right now, is key to surviving life happily.

A friend whom I have known for almost 20 years recently invited me to come to Texas for a visit. He and I have become close over the years and at one point, I had even been in love with him. My hope was one day we would be in a relationship and I have wanted that so much, it pushed him away a few times. I had let my attachment to controlling the future manifest into fear and neediness, instead of appreciating what we have and will always have: our friendship forever.

While preparing to go see him I again became fearful of not being good enough, being too old, being too much or not enough of...whatever. I let fear dictate my thoughts instead of just realizing he wanted to be with me because I am who I am. I could have instead been filling my heart with love, joy and gratefulness about going to see my best friend.

Ultimately, there was a family emergency he had to attend to (his sister and newborn nephew are healthy and doing well, thankfully).

For a brief moment, I felt sad and even fearful that the opportunity wouldn’t come up again, but I reeled my thoughts back to love instead of fear and realized there will always be another wave. It will never be the wave I saw on the horizon, but a wave will ripple to the surface, nonetheless.

For me, to be in “love mode” is an acceptance of yourself, your circumstances, your relationships, your job situation, your money situation, your “everything” situation – accepting all of it for what it is at this moment in time and dealing with it the best you can. Life is filled with things that aren’t going to go as planned, but if we accept all situations with love instead of fear we will find we can make it through a little freer from fear and doubt.

We have had enough fear for a while. Yes, we should still take precautions to stay safe. The point I’m trying to make here is that fear can be a huge reason we refrain from taking risks: falling in love, starting a new career, far away travels, new hobbies, everything you’ve always wanted to do but for fear of failure, looking stupid or some negative outcome.

If you have fear, switch to love and end with love and you may find that, regardless of the outcome, you’ll be glad you tried. Better that than looking back at your life and wishing you had tried.

Shannan Butler is a local artist, writer and “Jacqueline of all trades.”