Although these are unprecedented times as the entire world is suffering at the hands of a global pandemic, we are all in this together. There is so much going around that I would also like to share my own experience and personal take on this.
Coronavirus – Covid 19. This is my first time writing these words out in full. At the beginning of this outbreak, I even had a hard time saying them. The words themselves felt almost taboo, like a forbidden reality. There was a subconscious association to Toronto’s 2003 SARS outbreak, which, at the time, felt like one of the most terrifying chapters of my life.
Living with an anxiety disorder is challenging in and of itself but living with an anxiety disorder alongside a local outbreak or world pandemic is extremely challenging, to say the least. As this pandemic has overtaken our world, thoughts and feelings have flooded my mind on a moment to moment and daily basis. Yet I have not felt compelled to write until now as there was just too much for my mind to process and properly consume.
If you were asked to describe the current global circumstances, I think you would agree with my word choice: undeniable, inconceivable, unparalleled and unprecedented, moving from unsettling to anxiety-provoking and truly horrifying depending on your level of overthinking.
The idea of such a collective global experience does feel unfathomable. And crazily enough, at the same time, almost comforting. You see, in this particular circumstance, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! This virus does not discriminate. No country or island has been spared. No amount of money or degree of status can save or protect us. We are all treated equally.
We are all immersed in lock-downs and states of emergency. We are all experiencing daily fears, struggles, and pain-points, especially financial ones, as our global economy shuts down. Obviously, the impact of this virus does vary, yet it is undeniably a complex global enigma. There is no downplaying it or disputing its ugliness. The uncertainty is relentless, and we all have our own very real causes and conditions for concern and worry.
Although I consider myself a very spiritual person, I get upset with myself when times are challenging, and I jump too quickly to silver linings and lessons to be learned. But this time, I gave myself that time. For weeks now I, like you, have acknowledged and been consumed by the shock and hysteria that have surrounded this crazy time. So now I feel ready to meditate on the deeper meaning of this chapter so that I can move through each day with greater compassion, resourcefulness, creativity, and yes, with my dignity still intact.
It’s so important for all of us to also do the same, to give ourselves permission to carefully step into the next phase of this corona pandemic. We have been handed time for introspection—an invitation to uncover life’s deeper truths. They say that all challenges offer lessons to be learned. And if those lessons are not learned the challenges just get repeated, usually escalating each time. So, let’s take this time to fully learn them. For what we each do today, will absolutely and undeniably affect what will happen to us all tomorrow.
This is not to say that moving forward we should all simply accept in defeat all aspects of this daunting chapter. What I am suggesting is to get curious and be open to what else is possible here, amongst the messiness. And we can begin by asking ourselves some very essential questions such as these:
- How can we use our newfound time at home more wisely?
- What can we co-create when we stop arguing with reality and understand that this will unfold and it too shall pass?
- What kinds of healthy choices can we make at this time? What new habits of mind and behavior can we co-create?
- What values can we finally make time to prioritize?
- What neglected relationships can we finally make matter?
- How can we get a little more curious and a little less anxious and furious?
In the wise words of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Soon enough, this chapter will come to an end and it will get installed as a memory, which then begs the question, how will we look back on all of it? Will we do so with anything more than grief and despair? Will we also feel proud and grateful for the way we were able to show up and navigate our way through it?
Obviously, we have all created and will continue to create our own narrative around this coronavirus chapter of our lives. Each of us will decide what we make it all mean. But I would like to share the popular spiritual narrative that is currently circulating as it is the one that resonates most with me and is what I continue to remind myself, daily.
In my mind, that story goes something like this:
The world was tipping into dangerous territory. People were too busy, chasing time and materialism, in pursuit of happiness. People were too ego-centered, preoccupied, and addicted to their devices. Loved ones, relationships, our health, and even Mother Earth were oftentimes neglected. Success, fame, and money were prioritized. The pace of life was too fast and people too selfish and reactive. Children and seniors were not given our full attention. Our house was not always our home and family was not sufficiently valued. And the list goes on and on…
How do we awaken and shift global consciousness? It would be nice if universal messages of love could be easily transmitted and create universal change. But unfortunately, it seems to take a crisis and universal messages of fear for global change to take place. I wish this were not the case.
I recently read a beautiful message from Bill Gates entitled “What is the Coronavirus Really Teaching us?” where he wrote, “This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to learn…Whereas many see the Corona/Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a great corrector. It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten…”
My advice to all of us at this most vulnerable time is similar to Bill Gates’. Dig deeper than the symptoms and unpack the fear. See past the endless handwashing and sanitizing protocol, the lack of social connection and the financial strain—so we each can uncover the individual and global lessons that we are meant to learn.
Remember, we are all in this together, although we may feel so all alone. And although we are all currently suffering, God willing most of us will make it through this and will have the opportunity to participate in this global reset.
Although the timeframe is still quite uncertain, this too shall pass. And when that does, I do believe that the world will be transformed as a collective with a new normal. And as human beings, we each will have reinvented at least part of ourselves. This kind of crisis unknowingly shifts collective consciousness over time.
May we all come out on the other end of this chapter both stronger and wiser to make this world a better place for all.