My sister was born during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a moment in time when the world was at its closest to nuclear war. Even when my son was born in 1988 the threat of nuclear annihilation felt like the most likely way the world (as we knew it) could end. In the years since the nuclear threat has receded (the current conflict notwithstanding) but a whole new level of 'end of the world' has become so much more real. The arrival of my grandchildren has brought the existential anxiety to a head, the feeling that they will grow up and I will not be there to protect them from what is happening to the planet. And then browsing on The Atlantic the other afternoon and came across this article, where the author discovered that her father had worked at Raven Rock and had to face the notion that in the event of a nuclear attack he would have had to leave his family behind. She wonders how he lived with the idea. It concludes with the following sentiment that I found quite reassuring:
"What do we do, then, if we cannot stop time or prevent every loss?
We carry on with ordinary acts of everyday caretaking. I cannot shied my beloveds forever, but I can make them lunch today. I can teach a teenager to drive. I can take someone to a doctor appointment, fix the big crack in the ceiling when it begins to leak, and tuck everyone in at night, until I can't any more. I can do small acts of nurturing that stand in for big, impossible acts of permanent protection, because the closest thing to lasting shelter we can offer to one another is love, as deep and wide and in as many forms as we can give it.
We take care of who we can and what we can."
So for 2023 I resolve not beat myself up about what I can't do and try and focus on the ordinary acts, for my family and for the planet.