These Stressful Times Call For Endurance
When I was in high school, part of our physical education class involved running a timed mile.
I hated working out. I hated running; I hated crunches. I hated gym class — period.
If I had to exercise, I’d much rather it come in the form of dancing. Running was not my thing, it seemed like a form of torture, whereas dancing was fun and you got to move your body. But alas, we could not take dance classes in place of our physical education classes — and there was nothing to get one out of the Presidential Fitness tests.
I always prided myself on doing well in school, but the presidential fitness tests were not something I did well. Ever. I would run a lap and get tired, and eventually walk the rest of the mile, resulting in a time that one could compare to some octogenarians.
My physical education teachers would use these moments as a time to instruct my classmates and me about endurance.
They would teach us that it’s something to be cultivated and something to practice and that even if you don’t have it at this moment — you too can achieve it.
I’ve always thought of endurance in terms of physical strength.
It takes endurance to work out.
It takes endurance to run a mile, and it takes even more to run a marathon.
It takes endurance to lift weights, and practice yoga, and move your body every day.
Maintaining your physical health takes endurance.
But sometimes I think we forget that endurance is needed for emotional health, too.
Endurance is the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way — and right now, navigating through the coronavirus pandemic requires a tremendous amount of endurance.
For some, it may take endurance to wake up every morning and get out of bed and change out of your pajamas.
It would be easier to stay in bed all day, and burrow into the covers and hide away until this all passes — but you can’t.
And so you get up, and you make coffee. You change into jeans and a clean sweatshirt. You remember to brush your teeth and comb your hair. You figure out how to keep your children occupied in some sort of educational way, and then you begin working from your makeshift office. Maybe you clean your countertops while you have five minutes to spare. Perhaps you throw in a load of laundry as you’re on a lunch break. Then you work a little bit more while trying to keep your children from squabbling.
Next, you prep dinner, and try to get everyone in bed by a decent hour. Then maybe you and your spouse get to enjoy some cozy time on the couch. Or perhaps the two of you just face plant into bed, because today has been a marathon, and tomorrow will be one, too.
Or maybe your day looks different.
Perhaps you need to go to work because you’re an essential worker.
And so every morning, you wake up, unsure of what you’re going to find outside of your front door. You shower and put on your clothes, and now you add a mask to your daily workwear. You don’t mind driving to work because the roads are empty — and yet, you surprisingly miss the buzz of traffic.
You get to work — and the caring begins. You are a doctor, or a nurse, or a hospital worker — and so you pour careful attention into your patients. You do whatever you can to keep your oath. You do whatever you are able to do so that they may go home to their loved ones.
Or maybe you’re a grocery store worker or a first responder or bus or taxi cab driver — and so you do your best to help the ones who are coming to you in this time of need. You wear your mask. You say, “hello” and wish them well, and say that you too hope this ends soon.
Then you go home — and immediately throw your clothes into the wash, and take a shower. You do your best to scrub the day off of your skin — and say a silent prayer that you didn’t bring the virus into your home. Maybe you have time to eat dinner and engage with the ones you love — whether that be in your own home, or over a screen. Perhaps your soul is so tired that you just go to sleep — for tomorrow, you’ll have to do it again.
Or maybe your day looks like something else entirely.
But whatever your day holds — this pandemic time calls for endurance.
This time calls on us to wade through these times of uncertainty and keep treading the waters of quarantine.
Your muscles are going to get tired. Your determination to be positive and productive, and to find the silver linings in this mess is going to ebb and flow.
There will be peaks, and there will be valleys.
This time is going to feel like a marathon because it is — and I hope you treat yourself as if you were running the longest race of your life.
I hope you permit yourself to rest when it seems impossible to take another breath. I hope you keep going forward, even though you cannot see the finish line. I hope you eat breakfast that is going to give you the energy throughout the day, and I hope you keep drinking your water as you run.
But most of all, I hope you remember to pace yourself — this run is a long one.