The Gift of the pandemic of 2020
At this point in the pandemic the last thing we want to think about is the gift it is presenting to us. We have pandemic fatigue. However, we might want to consider the possibility it has provided us a gift. Absolutely we are frustrated by the uncertainty and of being told what we cannot do. To some it might even seem to be limiting our innate rights to freely move about in society, and many feel that the government has no right to tell us to stop.
There has to be something in it for us it seems.
We are social creatures and we need our community to thrive. The frustration we are feeling during the pandemic is our basic need to be social, for human contact. Being forced to shelter in place is difficult and goes against our human instinct to socialize.
But it is also teaching us life lessons, and forcing us to be creative, to prioritize what is important. People are learning new skills. Friends of mine are baking sourdough bread, experimenting with new recipes, gardening. I have been reading and listening to podcasts in my quest for learning. I have germinated seeds, something I have never done before.
Ultimately, these restrictions on our freedom means that we will have a healthy life at the end of the lockdown. That is, if we stick to the rules of safe distancing. We get that, yet there is still some resistance, and justifications promoted by conspiracy theories, that the government is trying to control the human population. or that the virus was created in a lab and released to the population to control them. That perspective is not helpful, and misses the lessons we should be learning.
The point for me is not that the government is trying to control its people, but rather how we as humans are responding to our responsibility of keeping the people we love safe. The resistance to being told to do something even if it is for our own good will be an uphill battle. If we feel deep down our quality of life is reduced, there will always be resistance.
Have you considered why the front-line workers continue to do their job in the face of this danger?Because they are fulfilling a noble cause. And it is for the greater good they are willing to put themselves in danger in spite of their fear they are experiencing daily. It is not because they are fearless, they do it for the good of all daily.
When I was in recovery from my stroke, I understood that my condition was dangerous, and that I shouldn't drive. I voluntarily did not to not drive for over a year until, finally, my doctor sent the letter to Ontario Ministry of Transportation, and my license was revoked. For a whole year it didn't bother me that I didn't drive but I hated that now I was told I couldn’t. I was angry even as I rationally knew that it was for my own good, and God forbid if I injured somebody. Feeling this resistance is also normal. While the decision was in my hands it was my decision. Now that decision was taken away.
So, here we are in a pandemic we are told for our own good we should not be going into public, and many nonessential services are closed. I get it. There are many unknowns about this virus. It is natural to feel fear. Have you thought about why frontline workers, such as nurses, doctors and police continue to do their job in the face of danger? It is not because they are fearless, it is because they believe what they are doing is for the greater good. It is a noble cause.
What I find helpful is a change in my perspective anytime I am faced with the challenge, and this is no different. I don’t view my limited freedom due to the virus as a sacrifice.
I viewed it as a noble cause. I am doing it to prevent the spread of the virus to those I love and others I don't even know, because they deserve to be safe and have a healthy life too. It is an action of love, particularly to those with compromised immune system. And this is the gift, and the lesson pandemic is giving me. It is showing us we are not separate; we are interconnected.
We must collectively adopt new behaviours in order to stop the spread the virus by our behavior. For example, washing our hands, staying home, keeping a safe distance when we are out. Viewing my actions as a noble cause created a space where I could comfortably lean into staying at home without resentment towards the government. In the same way I viewed my license being revoked.
The second lesson of this pandemic is that we know we must adapt our previous way of doing business. To some it might even be a welcome change. The realization that we can conduct the majority of our business on Zoom, perhaps reducing time traveling, being away from home and not facing the lineups at the airport, staying in hotels etc. The question I asked myself is how do I want this change to look like? How will I adapt to post pandemic 2020? I won't go into it in this blog post, however, it is definitely a subject matter I would love to explore in a future blog.
The natural world order is impermanence. Things never stay the same. Change happens. At the end of the day the virus has a lifecycle and will die, in large part if we don’t resist the calls for safe distancing, frequent washing hands to protect the vulnerable. Ultimately it is up to us individually and collectively.
Also, the prediction is it will likely resurface in the fall. And then the post pandemic measures in place will have to be extended. The question for me becomes how many souls am I willing to see die because I resisted safe measures being asked of me. What if it was somebody I loved?
My answer naturally is I am not willing to allow any human die because of my recklessness. I have a moral, ethical responsibility to do my part in not spreading the virus. More importantly to do it within the framework of a noble cause, with love and caring for all beings. I know, I am not being naïve when I say that the majority of the population also has this view.
Some actions to help change your perspective while staying home during the pandemic:
1. Know that you are not alone. What you’re feeling is normal.
2. Create new spaces in your home, for reading, meditation and, relaxation, ritual, ceremony.
3. Spend time out in nature. Take a long mindful walk.
4. Be playful, childlike, with a sense of wonder and newness. Be curious, but safe.
5. Spend time with people who inspire you to see anew.
6. Dare to dream big of the future, in high definition. Imagine how you want your world to look like post pandemic. How will you change the inequalities, where the most impacted were the underprivileged?
7. Contact your peers by phone, on social media, or text.
8. Take a moment to pause.
9. Slow down.
I know that we are all dealing with different realities. I am lucky to have a supportive family, a large house and beautiful surroundings by the Ottawa River. But I might trade a lot of that to have my sight back and for my body to be strong again. Others may be physically healthy but have other challenges. Our lives are in a way a lottery. But I leave you with this: what we can control, and maybe all we can control, is our reaction to what life throws at us. Especially in a time of crisis.