BRATTLEBORO — The eve of an event is a moment of great anticipation, trepidation, excitement, and anxiety.
An eve is the day or period of time immediately before an event or occasion. It is the time between events. Nothing has happened yet, so our imaginations can run wild, creating wide-ranging scenarios of what might come to be.
One of the most famous “eve” stories in Western literature is Dickens' A Christmas Carol, when on Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is presented with three possible future visions, all which depend on the choices he immediately faces.
Ultimately, Scrooge decides to be intentional about his future and not just let come what may. There is no “que será, será” attitude. He decides to make purposeful and intentional changes in his life leading to more positive outcomes for himself and those around him. Most importantly, the choices are only his to make.
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We have just passed a number of significant eves, such as the traditional ones of Christmas and New Year's. Now, we find ourselves on the eve of a number of historic ones, such as the inauguration of our new president and the departure of perhaps the most controversial president of ours, or of any, time.
Furthermore, we are on the eve of the widespread vaccination of people in the United States and worldwide, to finally gain some relief from the devastation and disruption of the COVID-19 virus.
Like Scrooge, we face seemingly insignificant choices that can influence our futures in unexpected, yet significant, ways. Yet, we also face certain choices that we know will be impactful.
We are urged each day by various media influencers to make retail, health-care, political, and dietary choices that we are assured will improve the quality of our lives.
Some choices might have an immediate impact that we can recognize. Others might have impacts way over our imaginable horizons, way over our rainbows. Those are a much harder sell in our please-me-now society.
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In these days of COVID-19, we have been forced to spend more time by ourselves, isolated from our normal social spheres and distractions.
Some of us have chosen to bury ourselves in a panoply of possibilities. News and social media report that rates of drinking, drug use, and online shopping are way up. People have chosen their distraction of choice.
But there are also reports that after an initial spurt of activity, not much happened or changed.
I started a blog on April 1, an auspicious day to try anything new. After four months of 300 words a day, I gave up. Even I got bored with my writing.
Others turned to more potentially constructive endeavors: sourdough baking, meditative walking, and vegan cooking have become coronavirus clichés.
During this shelter-in-residence period, we even got to know our children, our extended families, and their significant others on deeper levels than ever before - if only with Zoom.
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Confronting the immediate possibility of the life-changing impact of the coronavirus has forced us all to reflect on Dickensian futures.
We can choose to follow the crowd, to be influenced by our peers or pastors or chosen leaders. Or we can personally consider our options, reflect on them critically, and make what may be most difficult choices.
For some, myself included, reflection does not come naturally - it requires great effort and discipline. But in the end, I have found how worthwhile and rewarding it can be. Lao Tzu advised, “Do the difficult things while they are easy and the great things while they are small.”
So, on this eve of eves, what choices will you consider, will you reflect upon, and will you make? Will this be just another year of resolutions to be started, tried, and broken? Or will this be a year of new possibilities, realities, and futures for ourselves, our families, our society, our nation, and our world?
May we all take advantage of this eve of eves to reflect upon and make significant, intentional, and purposeful choices that will increase the prospect of changing our world - and the world of those we love for the better.