As COVID-19 brings a halt to normal daily life for much of the planet, worst-case scenarios are contemplated and fear mounts. Yes, there is much we don’t know but one thing is certain: we are being given a reset. This is a chance to pause, reflect, surrender, and choose change.
The human race has been grounded. There is no one to look at but ourselves, no one to blame but us. And like children in isolation, we must sit in the stew of our actions, regret, and discomfort until we can feel it, own it, and mature.
While we may not have consciously chosen this as our path to growth, we can consciously answer the wake-up call to grow. Best of all, we can choose an expanded perspective on the coronavirus and operate from it instead of our usual limited egoic selves. A perspective like:
What if the Coronavirus isn’t a tragedy? What if it’s a message? What if it’s even a gift?”
When we’re given resets, there’s a reason. We’re supposed to take them. We’re supposed to evolve.
I believe nothing is wasted — not even the most horrendous occurrence or the worst suffering since it is by overcoming adversity that we learn and grow. I see all as a gift, no matter how badly wrapped. I realize many will disagree or consider this a radical point of view. And granted, I have not enjoyed many such gifts when they’ve arrived in my own life for they can be painful if not tragic, even tests for survival. Yet without fail I have been grateful for every single one.
So what gifts does the coronavirus hold for us? What gifts is it already bestowing? And what might be its message?
Fear vs Love: Pick Your Team
The human experience runs on contrast. We wouldn’t know pain without pleasure, hot without cold, joy without grief. Throughout human history, there have existed countless times — World War II probably the most recent — in which the contrast was cranked up so high we couldn’t avoid what truly needs seeing. In those times enough light is cast on what matters for it to become inescapably visible. This is one of those times.
Team fear expects the worst, and by focusing on it usually gets it. Or freezes and does nothing. Or curls up into a ball and hides. It is the energy of separation.
Team love expects the outcome desired. Its motivation is hope. It is grateful for what has already been given. It spreads grace. It is the energy of unity.
Re-examination of Values
The first world consumer society that arose after World War II got us back on track then, but has been failing millions in recent decades.
- Who decided we should all work for others so “someday” those who were able to earn and save enough could do nothing but cruise and golf — vs. — creating our own work, our unique enterprises and enjoying the beauty in life as we’re living it rather than waiting until we’re practically departing it?
- Who decided the standard of personal success was marriage and family instead of community leadership, philanthropy or service? And that any of us — most of whom never had heathy family models to begin with — were fit to be parents in the first place?
- Who decided we should eat mass-produced food, buy more gadgets, shoes and luxury items than we could ever possibly need, and distract ourselves with media consumption and entertainment in every spare moment vs. moving, exercising, playing, inventing, and expressing our unique creative gifts?
Modern human values have been skewed for some time as first-world consumerism has seeped into even cocooned indigenous third-world cultures (everyone wants that TV and refrigerator). The point is we have a chance to reflect on what truly matters and makes us better, and to choose it.
Resilience and Ingenuity
On a practical level, we’re being told we can’t do things as we’ve always done. We are forced to find workarounds. Without the coronavirus push, when might we have proactively undertaken this for ourselves?
Do we need office buildings and schools and institutions that suck up massive amounts of natural resources, money and time? Massive campuses of higher education which contribute to run-away college costs and tuition affordable only to the upper classes?
Do we need oil-burning planes, trains, and automobiles when clean energy options are available?
Maybe we need our social gathering places more than our work and educational gathering places. Maybe we need to be connecting in smaller, purposeful groups in which we actually know one another rather than in giant casinos, stadiums, or concerts.
Maybe when we get to know the people in our groups, we’ll develop empathy, compassion, and love for them. You know, value their wellbeing as much as our own; take them as a part of ourselves.
Facing Our Shadows, Our Selves
Most of our escapes from boredom or unhappiness have been grounded too. Take away pro sports, concerts, festivals, bars, nightclubs, casinos, restaurants and travel, and what do people have left to entertain themselves? I’ve been curious about what coping skills, both healthy and unhealthy, will pop to the surface.
We can retreat into our shadow comforts (like TV, substances, or tech) but even those won’t fill our needs for long. Or, we’ll notice how we already abuse them.
Many of us will come face to face with our shadow selves much sooner than later. As anxiety rises we will bear witness to our self-medicating habits. They will be impossible not to notice. There will be nowhere to run or hide. We may experience shame.
We will see our narcissistic tendencies and realize life is not just about our personal agendas. How we move through the world right now can mean life or death for our fellow citizens and neighbors.
We must look into the abyss with courage, compassion, and empathy for ourselves and others. The nature of humanity is imperfection. The ability to see that is not a failure, it’s a rallying cry for growth. For conscious evolution.
Control, Choice, Surrender
Finally, we’re collectively getting a massive lesson many of us never received in the first place or haven’t wanted to accept.
Life is unpredictable, control is an illusion.
We can’t control what happens to us. But we can control how we react.”
Ultimately when we surrender to the flow of life, working with the current instead of fighting against it, we not only survive, we thrive.
Adopting that perspective, coronavirus is here, in the flow of our lives. Bestowing its poorly wrapped yet priceless gifts. We can choose how we react to it. We can heed its lessons and message. What might that message be?
I like to imagine that if the coronavirus could talk, it might say something like what a good friend sent me:
Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high-speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
– the planes
– the trains
– the schools
– the malls
– the meetings
– the frenetic, fierce rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our single and shared beating heart, the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
Did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way, buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?
Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you.
Instead, let it speak to you — in your stillness, listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about the quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you if you listen.
Surrender dear one, surrender.
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