Bad Now. Good Later.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are many different forms of tension to hold.

For now I just want to focus on the tension that arises from accepting that things are not great right now and they will be better in the future.

These are the two opposed ideas. Bad now. Good later.

The pandemic has forced many of us into this tension. Often, we lose sight of the second idea. It's hard to imagine being good later. We're more interested in when later is.

Recently, an expression came to mind that's been helpful as I think about this type of tension.

It's simple. Don't zoom out, zoom in.

Imagine something is bad right now. Also imagine that things will be good later, but you don't know when later is. Because you don't know where later is, it's easy for the bad right now to start piling up. One bad thing might lead you to think of another, then another, you get the idea.

How I've come to think of it is, with every bad thing you add, you're zooming out further. The picture is getting too big. There's too much information, and all you're seeing is just a big sea of bad.

Inertia is almost inevitable at this point.

The big sea of bad that you're swimming in, feels more like a sea made of quicksand.

So what do you do? How do you function while holding the tension of bad now and good later?

Zoom in.

Focus on the smallest unit (this can be time or an action) within your control, and make it better.

Later is not for you to control.

Now is.

Yellow background, two blue circles, a line in the middle.