As human beings, we search for meaning in life - we're kinda hard-wired to do so.
We're living history in 'real time' right now - no one knows what each day will bring. There are many uncertainties. We don't get up and get on with usual routines. The rhythm of our days has changed. We're moving to a new beat now, one that might be a foxtrot one day, a slow waltz the next, or a thumping bass when we've just had enough of it all.
And we're looking for the meaning of it - what's going on, man.
Author Emily Esfahani Smith (The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters) , said in an interview with Scientific American, “We’re creatures that seek meaning, make meaning, and yearn for meaning. The question is—how can we lead a meaningful life? The route to meaning lies in connecting and contributing to something bigger than yourself—and not in gratifying yourself and focusing on what you, yourself, need and want, as the happiness industry encourages us to do.”
In her book, author Smith describes how finding meaning is a key to living well, and a part of that involves reflecting on our lives and writing a narrative. This practice can really help during times of uncertainty when we're struggling to figure out how our lives are being changed by external circumstances over which we have little or not control.
The first step is to stop and reflect.
Writing can help us make sense of the world and doing so takes on even more importance when we're faced with a global challenge like a pandemic: what is this all about? Why is this happening? What is going to happen to me and those I care about? What will happen to the world? Will things ever be the same?
Finding meaning can be a process of writing a narrative, telling a story, about those things that appear to be random and not connected at all, and understanding how these experiences actually do fit together. By reflecting on what is happening in the world right now, we can see how the arcs of our lives have already been affected, how life paths have been re-directed down roads we never knew existed, with destinations that are unclear (like driving down a foggy road at night with one headlight).
By writing we can achieve perspective and begin to understand our lives, and our selves, and what has meaning for us. Meaning can be found both in the challenge of global events and in the seemingly mundane hours of the days we are spending in our lockdown period.
Write about it all.