My friend Nora said, “If this past year wasn’t the year you learned to say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘the data isn’t clear yet’ and ‘I changed my mind’ then, friend, that year is never coming.”
Lest you think she said this because she’s trying to sow doubt and division, or make people think they shouldn’t listen to what the authorities are recommending to stay safe during Covid-tide, let me reassure you that Nora is a nurse, and she is the one who first got me to start taking the virus seriously.
What she saw in the earliest days of the pandemic was disturbing enough that she knew it was something new and terrible, something out of the ordinary. After I saw what she had to say then, I went out and started stocking up on shelf-stable foods and toilet paper, and more than once, I consulted her for what to do when we had an ambiguous situation with a possible covid exposure.
The reason I asked her advice was not just because of her foresight and her expertise. It was because she has the humility to understand that dealing with something new means even the experts are learning as they go, and that means you won’t always have the final and best answer to every question, or at least you won’t always have a good answer that’s guaranteed never to change.
Changing your mind doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. It just means that some things in life aren’t perfectly and instantly clear cut. It’s true for everything pertaining to covid, and it’s true for . . . well, just about everything.
My husband and I have taken to adding, “Or, I don’t know. I don’t know anything” to the end of just about everything we say. It’s not a joke. It’s an admission of– not so much defeat, as the realization that certain things just aren’t winnable.
Image:”By the Window (Portrait of Olga Trubnikova) by Valenin Serov via WikiArt (public domain)