book recommendations, book review, COVID-19

Looking Back & Looking Forward

I just finished a book called In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. At the virtual library where I belong, they have a tab for books that are currently available to check out. I’d never heard of this book, but it was available and sounded interesting. I love when I strike gold.

The book was well-written and engaging. But more so, it left the reader with so much to consider. As my dad said (since we read most of our books together), “This would be a perfect book club book.” The premise of the book is as follows. The Type-A Manhattan lawyer has her life all set out. She knows what she wants and she’s always been driven to get it. One night, she finds herself suddenly projected into her future life, five years from now, just for one hour; and it’s not the life she had envisioned. What do you do with that information? Do you try to change the present, based on what you know the future is apparently going to be? Do you relax into it and assume that there is a plan set out for you, even if it’s not the one you thought it would be? The book addresses these issues beautifully.

And then it got me thinking. I know that so many of us around the world are just trying to survive right now. Some are experiencing anxiety, complicated situations with children and their learning, complicated situations with families and our inability to see loved ones, complicated economic situations, complicated health situations. Perhaps it’s not the time to think too deeply or to reflect.

But perhaps it is.

Let’s say that five years ago, on October 18, 2015, we had been given a one-hour snapshot of our future selves on October 18, 2020. Can you even imagine? Most of us (except perhaps Bill Gates and those like him) could never have imagined what the world would look like right now. But let’s say you had that insight.

How would you have lived the last five years differently, knowing what was coming?

And now that you are here, how will you live the next five years differently when we finally get through all of this?

I look over our safari pictures these days (which are on the kitchen wall, so I don’t have to go far to see them) and I am filled with gratitude. There were so many reasons three years ago NOT to take our six sons away to Africa on a safari. I am so grateful that we were able to hush all of those internal voices and take them. What if we had pushed it off and pushed it off, until we ended up scheduling it during COVID-19 and once one son could no longer join us? When I look at the pictures of our son’s bar mitzvah in September 2019, and the visiting grandparents, I am deeply grateful; I am, as well, for our last trip to LA in December 2019. We expected to see the grandparents again soon; but now we have absolutely no idea when we will see our loved ones next. We are so grateful that we didn’t push off our past trips or theirs.

These are just a few examples of the ways that I’m grateful for experiences we didn’t pass up.

Now, looking to the future, I think that there are many lessons we can learn from this time. Do we postpone things in our lives that we should try to stop postponing? This could mean travel, having kids, even just saying a nice word to someone. Do we keep saying ‘Oh I’ll do that at some point?’ On a more macabre level, do you have your will in place? Do you have enough health insurance should you need it?

There are so many questions that we can be asking ourselves after this experience. I’m well aware that questions are a luxury, and that so many people are just trying to survive right now. But perhaps, at some point, each of us will have the luxury to think about these profound questions, and to redirect the next five, ten, fifteen years of our lives based on what we learned from this incredibly difficult time.


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