That’s what they call this. “We are living in an unprecedented time.”
Unprecedented (adj.): without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled
The term unprecedented describes moments of which there are no reference. No benchmark. No answer. Today it’s used to dismiss the hard questions. It implies that we should accept another moment bracing the unknown as situations unfold around us that make us feel uncomfortable.
Unprecedented means we should accept that no one else has the answers, either. They are as baffled as we are, and we must find solace on a directionless path we find ourselves on together.
Yesterday was unprecedented.
Yesterday, we saw schools padlock their doors. We saw the dust settle on engines and steel. We saw models from health professionals in overtaxed hospitals weigh the value of a life. We weighed the value of our own lives and wondered if we would survive their sorting line.
We witnessed pent-up frustrations and tempers flare from those vexed by inconvenience. We heard false narratives to restore some sort of normalcy at the risk of our most vulnerable populations.
“We’re all okay.”
“Stay the course.“
“Business as usual.”
“Unprecedented isn’t here yet.”
We saw distrust in the eyes of those passing by, as if acknowledging them would cast an evil spell. “Is she one of them?” “Is he at least 6 feet away?” Don’t breathe. Don’t speak. Keep your heads down until this all goes away.
Yesterday we witnessed greedy hoarders stacking rows of basic necessities in their supply sheds as their neighbors desperately went without. We saw fear of the unknown manifest itself with panic . . . with outrage . . . with shaming others who deal with fear in different ways.
We saw those we love carrying ‘unprecedented’ on their faces, wearing it around them like a shroud of mourning for what they once knew.
At the end of yesterday, the years spent proving we were more worthy than others on the hierarchical rung were gone. Who we knew ourselves to be were gone. Yesterday was unprecedented.
Today we are stripped clean.
Today we set a new precedent.
Today we decide to respond with love. With grace. With patience. With kindness.
Today we remember we were children once. We recall marveling at blades of grass. We savor the jaw-dropping awe of learning something new about ourselves without needing to label it, compartmentalize it, or slap it on a resume for later. We respond with patience when we are challenged because as children, we remember what it was like to feel the energies of Earth without owing it anything . . . without believing we were the pulse that kept it going.
Today we unclench our hands and discover how we can reach across distances to recognize those who feel forgotten. We ask of ourselves what’s needed to restore humanity and remember why we fight.
Today we swallow pride. We let others know we need them as much as they need us, and we’re okay with that.
We do not pour disdain on today. Today has its own share of problems. Today we take control of what we do know and leave the rest in the hands of a higher power beyond our understanding.
Yesterday was unprecedented but tomorrow the measuring stick will be moved again. We will rise in the morning with messages demanding our attention despite our inability to control the outcome. They will tell us it’s unprecedented, as usual, and expect us to respond.
But for us, for today, we won’t respond with panic and fear. We will stop moving in the only ways we know how and be still. We will listen and learn how to be of service to others and to our own wellbeing.
There will be more unprecedented in the future. But you’ve been there before. The crises won’t end, but the rest is up to you.