Updated: Apr 20, 2020
This is surely a strange and unusual time. At first it seemed unreal and far away. Then as the virus made its way into our backyards, one by one we woke up to the sobering fact that this dystopian threat is real. Something only a rare few have experienced before in their lifetime. The Centenarians among us can recall the Spanish Influenza of 1918. For the rest of us, it is completely foreign.
There has been great loss. Some of us have been relatively buffered from direct experience of this crisis. If we have been lucky enough to be spared loosing a loved one, at best, many find themselves traumatized daily by being exposed to the reality of suffering around us. This creates an experience of great uncertainty and chaos. We take some comfort in knowing this is a universal experience and as such, we are not alone. And yet, due to social distancing and the overall lack of human contact, some may feel more alone than ever. Hugs are out of the question and sharing meals has become too risky. We are learning to sanitize our groceries, to wear a mask in public spaces, wash our hands frequently, wear gloves and keep six feet apart from strangers and loved ones alike.
We find ourselves in a paradox of experiences: mothers thrilled to have their college kids home again while others struggle to keep restless little ones occupied and homeschooled. Parents trying to find ways to navigate blurry boundaries of family and work life, while sharing physical space, multitasking as never before. Family tensions can mount under the pressure of less privacy, parenting challenges, martial discord and financial hardship. So here we are in the midst of this challenge. The novelty of hunkering down at home has worn off and we are not yet through the woods. Nightly press conferences remind us that even the experts are doing their best to take educated guesses at the future.
To add to these already stress inducing conditions the nagging question remains: How much longer? When will we begin to go back to our normal way of life?
One thing this pandemic has reminded us of is how little control we have over life. Life is a powerful force, and our attempts to control external circumstances are, to a large extent, a mere illusion. We overlook the fact that our greatest source of power lies in our ability to know ourselves and bring increasing awareness, clarity and freedom to our inner experience! We are, moment to moment, choosing our attitude toward life.
I propose that we avoid being focused on “getting back to normal”. Why? It places us in psychological limbo, where we just try to endure the Now in order to get someplace better. The problem with that approach is that we procrastinate really living. We forget that it is precious to be alive, even under difficult circumstances.
I invite you to consider embracing the challenge of this moment with a courageous heart. To do so would mean becoming Pandemic Warriors, staying engaged in today, in this moment. This kind of warrior lets life become the teacher. This kind of warrior knows the tragedy of waiting for some day in the vaccine-filled future to be happy again.
Let’s be the kind of warriors who passionately know that we will find more power within ourselves when we are unburdened of chronic resistance to the unpredictability of this pandemic. To drop this resistance, we must be willing to feel the fear, and stay present, taking each moment, day, week as it comes. We must also be able to notice the joy, embedded in every day. With this attitude, we become fiercely determined to live a happy and empowered life now, even in the chaos. Yes, in fact, because of it.