“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring
The above is one of my favourite quotes – period. It perfectly encapsulates everything that I’m fairly sure almost every generation or person has felt at some time or another. I’m sure it’s also something many of us are thinking or have thought at some point during this global pandemic.
“Why did this have to happen?”
“If only this never happened!”
It’s not for us to decide a large part of what happens during our lifetime. Like many things in our lives, a great deal of what happens is outside of our control. That locus beyond our control includes everything from the weather, politics, your sports team losing, world events, financial markets and other people. History has a habit of repeating itself unfortunately and our shared history has a pattern of terrible things happening every now and again, usually completely outside of the control of the vast majority of the population. While I’m not saying we should ignore the big stuff – the politics or conflicts or the suffering of others – we also have to be realistic about what we can control. Usually the only thing we have control over is ourselves – right now, right here – in this moment. We can’t control what we did yesterday or take back our mistakes or stupid things we said. But we can do something different right now and look to do something different or better tomorrow. We have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. Not focusing our time and energy on the things we can’t control or complaining that life was better in 2019. Even if there is truth in that. Because that doesn’t do anything. But making positive, pro-active decisions about what we can do with the time we have right now – no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential – those are the things that we have total control over. The psychologist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl believed that many of us ask the question – “what is the meaning of life?” – but in fact, life asks the question of us. The meaning is specific to us and only we can answer the question by what we derive meaning from and how we live our lives.
What happens in the time we have is outside of our control to a large extent – but what we do and who we become in that time – are in our control. Answer life’s question the best way you see fit.