I Sat on a Park Bench and Thought About What Was Going On

I sat on a park bench this morning, and I thought about everything that is going on.

I’ve been wracking my brain over the last few days on how I want to show up during these hard times, and the direction I was seeking wasn’t showing up. These are uncertain times. These are hard times.

And, for some, this might be the hardest and darkest time in their life. Make no mistake, we are living and creating history right now. I believe it was this idea that froze me from taking action right away. By some miracle, throughout everything that has occurred so far, I feel calm and centered.

Every storm has a center, a quiet middle before the second wave strikes.

In the eye of the storm there is no wind, no rain, and no destruction. And, if you find yourself in the serenity of its grace, you’d be a fool to not take the opportunity to listen, think, and then react.

I needed to get quiet, real quiet. I needed to hear what was going on in myself outside of the world. So here I was, sipping some coffee, sitting on a park bench, looking out onto Capitol Lake. My phone, left at home. My responsibilities, set aside for a few hours.

It is a beautiful day today. The sun is shining (which is rare at this time of year in Washington), and there is a stillness to the world around me. It is as if the whole world is holding its breathe to see what happens next.

And the thing is that for once, as a collective whole, we don’t know what will happen next. These are uncertain times.

In that lay the answer I was seeking: I needed to find certainty. I needed to find a path forward, a way I could show up regardless of what happens. That way, when the storm passes from the eye and into the second wave, I’d be ready.

All of us will be changed by this pandemic. None of us can escape what will happen next. Regardless of what happens, it will happen regardless. Given that one certainty, I’ve decided I want to be a beacon of hope, an anchor in these hard times.

I want to offer a place of stillness for those who can not find stillness elsewhere in their life.

Providing this has, in many ways, already been the story of my life. Or maybe it is something that I have been working on all this time, unknowingly preparing for this exact moment in history.

I am no scientist. I don’t have a cure. I am not rich, and don’t have enough money to save people’s finances. I am just like you and only have 24 hours each day to give. But, my cup is, as they say, full.

So here is my gift to you, my my guidance for you in these hard and trying times.

Hard times will come, and they will also pass.

Right now, in the thick of it, it may feel like this is the end of the world. It might feel like the extremes of your fears will occur, and that there is nothing you can do other than weather the storm.

I am here to remind you that hard times come, and that they also pass along.

Life is a roller-coaster with ups and downs. Sometimes the downs are more down than we can ever expect, but regardless of how far the ride drops, it will come back up in its own time.

Practice patience and acceptance during this time. Understand that you will not be in this dark time forever. Trust in this.

Hard times are not a punishment, but rather a gift.

Hard times teach us what we truly value and inspire us with gratitude for what we had yesteryear. We may now find that we are missing our friends, family, jobs, and so many other things that we used to complain about from day to day.

If we had these same things today, we would be grateful.

So practice gratitude and be thankful for what you have rather than worry about what you wish you had. There are always things to be grateful for, and now is as good a time as any to retrain your mind to see what is good in your life.

Hard times provide the opportunity for massive growth.

Hard times push us to reevaluate what is important to us and what is not. They may also bring up regrets about what you wish you had done in your past.

Maybe you wish you had gone to the gym or worked on your finances. Maybe you wish you had shown more love to your significant other or connected more with your family. Maybe you wish you had traveled and experienced more of what true freedom feels like.

Regret is a burden that is not worth bearing. Trust me. Each regret you stack upon your pile of life is a denial of your true self, the you the world needs to see.

“Someone once told me the definition of hell; on your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”

– Anonymous

So, make a list of the things you wish you would have done, and start working towards doing them today. Use your pain, your anger, your frustrations in this time to fuel massive growth and become who you truly have always wanted to be.

Prepare mentally for the worst, and, in contrast, take everything day by day as it comes to you.

If you find yourself worrying and stressing about everything that can or could happen over the next few months, that is quite understandable.

The thing is, the worst may happen. I think its fair to say that anxiety is a rotten bitch that can keep you from seeing clearly and lead you to poor decisions.

Anxiety is a natural loop we all experience when we worry about what could happen in the future. The more we try to predict everything that will happen and control the outcome, the more we stress and put ourselves in a truly dark and looping mental state.

Stoicism is the practice of writing down every possible outcome that might occur, and setting up a plan for each of those outcomes.

If you need to, write down the best, middle, and worst case scenarios of what could happen with your life in the near future. I would start with just these three, but, if you are comfortable, you can write them all down, everything you can think of.

The next step is to write down a plan for each possible scenario. What would you do if each of these happened? The idea is that since you planned for all scenarios, you can rest assured that you have set yourself up and prepared for the worst case scenario (as well as the best.)

I cannot say that this will cure your anxiety, but what I will say is that it can drastically help with everything that is going on.

Social isolation is a bitch, and it is also a choice.

I am a huge proponent of social distancing. You should be as well. During these times, we need to make sure to take care of our medical professionals so they can take care of all of us. They are working around the clock and are the true heroes during this time.

Social distancing does not mean you have to remove yourself from society.

You can reach out to your friend and family in the morning and tell them that you love them.

You can call someone when you feel lonely and speak honestly about how you are feeling. Reciprocate this by asking and listening to how they are doing as well.

You can use video chat a lot more than you normally do. Maybe try creating new connections through social media and if you are single, dating apps. (Just don’t meet up in person right now.)

In my experience, it is easy when you feel lonely to self-fulfill the prophecy of being alone forever. Loneliness breeds loneliness, and unattended loneliness quickly turns to social depression.

If nothing else, you are more than welcome to reach out to me. Let’s get a conversation started. You are never alone.

Build some good habits during this time to kill off any negative habits.

A lot of us have a shit ton of free time right now. This can easily lead to boredom, a lack of direction, and the formation (or growth) of our shadow self. As our shadow self grows, so does the shadow around us and our negative habits decide that our day-to-day life is their playing ground.

Negative habits breed more negative habits.

Positive habits breed more positive habits.

Reread that again.

I wrote a post a while back about how to build habits quickly (almost overnight) and have them stick here.

Looking for some further inspiration on some habits to build? Joel Torgeson wrote a great article called The Corona Opportunity. Check it out!

Looking for some inner inspiration? Go back to your list of regrets and start working towards knocking those off the list.

I also recommend this podcast episode of The Ground Up Show hosted by Matt d’Avella. This episode features James Clear, one of the biggest thought leaders on building habits in the world.

You get to decide how you will show up during this time.

As a final thought, I would encourage you to not play the victim card. Life can be hard, life can be brutal. No, you do not deserve what is happening to you. No one ever does.

But, playing the victim card removes your ability to take action or change your life. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we decide to show up and react.

Accept that this is happening. Accept that it isn’t fair. Show yourself just how strong of a human you are. Rise to the occasion. Be a leader and show the world that you will not stand idly by in your life.

Look into the day, let yourself be free, and roar into the sky with defiance that you are strong, that you are powerful, and that you will be better because of this.

Much love, as always,

Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin is the lead writer and creator of Points of Connection. He's been studying dating, relationships, and how to build authentic intimacy for over 9 years now. You can find him sipping away at a cup of coffee at a local shop making friends with the stranger next to him.