The last twenty-two months have been tough. We are drained, stressed, and scared. Rather than be frozen in fear, ask a forward-looking question. What can we do to improve these precious lives we have?

Many of us feel stuck in “crisis” mode. Waves of infections and new variants plague us. Our world has narrowed, both territorially, economically, and politically. Perhaps you feel that our best days are behind us.

Instead, we could prepare to move to the next stage of an endemic or post-pandemic life more effectively. What will that take? Careful discernment and courage are key. How do I know? I read the Torah.

God spoke to Moses, directing him on how to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. “Tell them I am the God of their ancestors.”  “Tell them I will rescue them on eagles’ wings!” Moses shared the news, but the people could not listen. Why? Because their souls were crushed by bondage. They had lived too long in the narrowness of Egyptian enslavement. When the soul is crushed, people are at the bottom of their reserves.  And so the Hebrew slaves were too demoralized to hear Moses’ message from God. Only after a series of miracles did the people finally regain hope and imagine the future.

We are not bound up in enslavement, but we are experiencing the sort of calamity that can crush the soul. And yet we can persevere by adjusting our short-term goals and thinking about longer-term strategies.

The first step is to appreciate the many wonders of our times. The development and distribution of a vaccine in record time. The technology to diagnose, test, and track the disease. The miracle of cable television made difficult times more bearable. Who could imagine that we could order anything delivered to our front porch? Do you remember life before Zoom?

The second step is to acknowledge how you are feeling. The CDC website says “Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.” Making time for self-care now will aid in your long-term healing.

The third step is to anticipate how to live your best life even in a time of pandemic. What are the opportunities for increased downtime? In what ways can your life be more healthful? Can you better care for and inspire the people you know?

Creating a better future requires changing ourselves. Start with these steps: appreciate, accept, and advance. Because we can change crushed to crushing it!

Rabbi Evan J. Krame