Gary Adkisson: Being OK with what is not OK

Gary Adkisson: Being OK with what is not OK

From the North Dakota coronavirus news roundup of the week: March 22-28 series

It’s been interesting to see how people adapt to the changes brought about by this COVID-19 pandemic.

I don’t feel like my daily routine has changed dramatically. Sure, I have to pick up my coffee at the drive-thru instead of walking in and being greeted by a “Good morning, Gary," and I’m not being able to join friends at cycling classes. Small stuff in comparison.

My wife’s routine changed pretty dramatically in that she travels for work, teaching classes on isolation and quarantine procedures. With air travel and class sizes being issues, classes have been canceled or postponed for several weeks.

Church services moving exclusively to an online format has been quite fun actually. I have a brother who started a church in Nashville a year or so ago.

We have not been able to attend in person, but last Sunday morning we were able to watch his service online. He had a wonderful sermon, and perhaps as you would expect in Music City, he had a phenomenal band and singers. I think we will visit again this week.

We also visited our former pastor and church in Carlisle, Pa. Pastor Shad Baker is still one of my favorite ministers. It was great to hear him again.

Though I have no musical ability, I have a lot of friends who are accomplished musicians. Many of them have shared their talent on Facebook and YouTube. There are so many talented people among us, and it has been a blessing to listen and watch them perform.

And speaking of performances, my wife and I were treated to an online talent show by our grandkids. They played instruments, sang, danced, did gymnastics, and the 18-month-old put a puzzle together, clapping for himself with each one he placed correctly.

While many friends have shared that they are binging on Netflix or Amazon, several friends have told me that they are reading a lot more.

My friend, Melanie Carvell, mentored me on mindfulness and meditation a few months ago in preparation for a column on the topic. She introduced me to the idea of being OK with what is not OK. Said differently, it’s OK to not be OK.

We need not always project an attitude that everything is great when it isn’t. The fact is, a lot of folks are struggling right now. We daily see a rising number of people around the country and around the world who are in great despair as the virus has ravaged whole cities.

While most of us have not contracted the virus, lives are impacted by job loss, school closures, shortages of supplies and isolation as we are told to practice social distancing.

While none of that is OK, we can change our mindset to be one of gratitude for what we do have, that we have our health, time to spend with family, nicer weather that allows us to get outside and so on.

It is not that we dismiss what is not OK. On the contrary, we acknowledge it, but then we must shift our focus to what is good and how we can help others. That’s where mindfulness comes in. There are specific techniques that help us do that.

I appreciate that Gov. Doug Burgum is leading the way. He closed his daily press briefing Tuesday with this Melody Beattie quote. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

A simple Google search on mindfulness will provide more resources than you can digest in a year's time. Why not start now, while it is sorely needed and you have the time.

Gary Adkisson is publisher of The Bismarck Tribune.

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