Letting go is the only way to cope with uncertainty

By Helen Lewis

For the past five months, it has felt as if the entire world has been trapped at an airport departure gate, and the only information on the screen is the word “Delayed…”

Last week, Foreign Affairs magazine asked dozens of epidemiologists and health experts whether Covid-19 cases would be higher at the start of next year than they are now. Their answers were all over the place: 22 agreed, eight disagreed, three were neutral. More than that, they offered wildly different “confidence levels” for their opinions.

The paradox is that we endure far less uncertainty than our ancestors, yet find it more stressful. Medieval peasants lived in a world where the crops might fail, a rogue baron might come pillaging, or any number of now-preventable diseases might kill your child. They turned to God or philosophy, and tolerated, if not accepted, the essential capriciousness of the universe. But that isn’t our experience in the developed world today. Predictions are everywhere, and they promise us control over our lives.

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