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One Step at a Time

A knowledge of the path cannot be substituted for putting one foot in front of the other. - M. C. Richards

by Susie Montermoso

W hen I awoke the first morning of sheltering in place, my first instinct was to declutter the house, a chore that has been my default coping skill for decades. It seems to set off an inner signal to make space in the room of my mind and rearrange the “furniture” in it.

Overnight, the world had changed. A single deadly virus invisible to the human eye, had made billions of us hostage in our homes. Suddenly, the life of choice we thought we had secured for ourselves was taken away.

On this early spring morning, it all seemed unfathomable.

How would I get through this time of isolating myself from cherished family, friends, colleagues, who nourish me daily with their stories and their presence? What would I need to ground me in all this uncertainty?   These and so many other questions haunted me.

Then the word “dig” came to mind. It transported me to a beloved teacher from a time and place long ago. She had been inclement in admonishing us that our task was to “dig, dig, and keep digging” for the meaning of a text in its deepest and broadest context. It occurred to me that the “text” confronting me now was myself, my inner world of worry and uncertainty.

I had often thought that my life experience, with all its ebb and flow, had given me a “storehouse” of resilience, a sort of built-in “buffer” for the unexpected storms that may come my way. But I was mistaken. I felt terribly ill-equipped to face the weeks that stretched out in front of me.

I realized then that the working meaning of being resilient mirrors our day to day journey in grief. It gets doled out slowly, even begrudgingly it seems, step by step, from one moment to the next, one day at a time.

Today, as the end of the road for sheltering in place fades in the distance. I hope my fitbit tracker, and I, will be ready, each step of the way.

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