Sometimes in life you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. That’s what happened on Friday when I had my first vaccine dose.
Last Thursday, a letter from the NHS arrived telling me I was eligible for my vaccine jab. Maybe it was a ‘slow work day’ that meant as soon as I’d opened it I was on my computer searching for a time and place to get it done.
There was a choice. Wait until Tuesday and get it done closer to home or travel further and have it the next day? Friday morning it was and I’d also get my fourth trip off the island since this current lockdown began. A bonus. I was excited and looking forward to having an injection!
Next morning arrived. The drive to Gravesend, maybe not the best place name for my jab, was easy and the sun was out. I hadn’t been driving at this time of day in months. Ddi we really used to do this everyday? I found the vaccination centre easily enough and, as soon as I walked through the doors, the energy and vitality struck me. The atmosphere was incredible. Can you feel care, kindness and commitment in the air?
The process was smooth and efficient and you have to love the Rotary Club for somehow always being there as volunteers. Socially distanced, a few questions, bit more standing, a few more questions and then sitting down, sleeve up, “just a sharp prick”, a quick “that was it? “ from me, a card to bring along next time for my second dose and a sticker to tell the world what had happened and that I’d joined an ever growing club. I have told everyone it was because I was brave!
With instructions to sit in my car for 15 minutes before driving, I stepped out into the sunshine and things had changed. The sun felt warmer and brighter than before going into the vaccination centre and I felt relieved – unexpectedly. Like a weight had gone that I didn’t know I’d been carrying. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I thought I’d been doing fine. I really did and I was. It was only when I became aware of feeling relieved I realised I’d grown used to living with a subtle, and not so subtle, fear present for months. A constant white noise that felt oppressive and tiring. My new ‘norm’.
My friend Jeff, in the USA, calls this the weight of uncertainty and that we don’t actively feel it because we didn’t have a choice – it was just there. The vaccine is the ‘bump’ to call attention to our internal state. The moment when we know what we didn’t know.
That’s the thing with each of us. No matter how much we want to believe we are fully aware of what’s going on we all have a blind spot and its only when something, or someone, comes along we know what our blind spot(s) is. When that happens its easy to say “I should’ve known”. Really? Life is about discovery and learning and once we know what’s going on we have the option to make changes. Knowing what we didn’t know is an opportunity.
There’s something unique about this particular vaccination. It’s a ‘golden’ opportunity to pause, reconsider and make changes. I knew having it mattered for many reasons. What I hadn’t appreciated was the way I’d feel. Having my jab was about more than being vaccinated. It was about possibilities. Naive not to have known this? I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Now not all of us will make changes with our ‘knowing what I now know’ moment. Each of us have our reasons to keep things the same. Not feeling ready, waiting for something else to happen first, preferring the same routine, worried what others will think and wondering if they’ll be a better time are a few I’ve used over the years.
The reality is nothing stays the same. Change is an option. It is also an inevitability. For a long time I didn’t like accepting that. Over the years I’ve discovered aiming to stop change is like trying to force water up hill using a fork.
Once you know what you know you may as well embrace making changes because they are coming anyway and life feels better sitting in the driving seat rather than wondering where you’ll end up. Having your vaccination could be the day you grab the wheel and if anyone asks why you‘re doing things differently you could always say its a side effect!
Remember my friend Jeff from earlier? He felt a deep need to speak with people after he got his first shot. I felt the same. Let me know how you get (got) on.
Till the next time.
Enjoy the day you create.