Astrid & Irene: Let’s focus on the things we can control

When we were young, we used to lie awake at night worrying about things such as nuclear weapons and the Cold War and the possibility that someone might accidentally hit that button (Irene). Or about the baby seals being clubbed to death, because those pictures were so upsetting (Astrid).

As we grew older, we found ways of managing big world problems a bit better for ourselves. It wasn’t necessarily the most engaged way of doing it, but closing ourselves off a little did work: not watching the news very often, and instead of spending hours online reading the latest updates about who, what, where and when during a terrorist attack (Astrid), we chose to go for a walk or a swim a bit more often.

But then COVID-19 started raging around the world and turning away from the news bulletins became a whole lot more difficult because this feels much closer to home than the nuclear weapons and baby seals.

In these unprecedented times, we still try to remind ourselves to make time for things that offer us a bit of distraction, and when we do seek out the news, we try to go for quality, not quantity, and focus on the updates that help us understand how things work. Reading a solidly researched article helps as it offers us more context and a better understanding of the issue. And that, in turn, gives us the occasional window of calm in a turbulent period.

We do something else too. We make a list of the things we are able to influence, and try to invest our time and energy into putting those things into practice in small steps and one day at a time.
So instead of worrying about things we have no control over – whether others are following the recommendations about social distancing, for example, and whether the shops can keep up with demand – we try to focus on what we, personally, can do. In our daily lives, in the way we treat people, how we help others, how we protect the world around us.

With Flow, too, we want to do whatever we can to make the world a bit less scary and difficult to comprehend. As it is in publishing, we started making issue 36 of Flow many months ago and when we had almost finished it, the world came to a standstill because of the coronavirus. We have no idea what the situation will look like when you are reading this. But we do hope you are doing well and that you will find something in these pages that brings you solace, some context and a window of calm.

Be safe, and take care of yourselves and those around you.

  • Read more about focusing on the things we can control in issue 36.

Photography Danique van Kesteren