Everywhere you go, people are talking about the novel coronavirus. Every social media platform is filled with posts, news, people sharing what they’ve heard and what they are worried about. I can’t even open my email inbox without getting updates about a cancelled conference, a new quarantine, an in-person event changed to online-only, or a closure of yet another institution. A dark cloud of dread is following us around and with the shadow it casts, it can be hard to see the sun at all.
What should we do exactly?
If you are asking yourself this question, you are not alone. I’ve been wondering all week.
Some people respond by ignoring the news and making fun of the people expressing their worry. Some are panicking, some hoarding supplies. Some people wring their hands, and some people cancel their plans.
But I’ve noticed other behaviors too. Some are bringing more attention to good personal hygiene and washing their hands well and often. Many are turning to the CDC and to scientists for their updates and information, and turning off social media updates for awhile.
I’ve noticed some people who are calling their relatives and loved ones to check in. People who are striking up conversations with the neighbor they never really talk to as they both wheel their trash cans out to the curb, making a connection they’ve been meaning to make but never got around to.
With the stock market crashing, economic fallout, and the future of so many families affected, many of us are looking around, wondering what lay in store for all of us.
We have never been able to reliably predict the future. And so, as the virus is racing around the planet, as we read reports of ill-health and even death, and as we face the possibilities of the unknown, it’s understandable that we can be anxious, tense and edgy.
But here is a truth to remember: we face the possibilities of the unknown every day.
Just by getting up in the morning, we face the unknown. But in our routine, many of us stop feeling the immediate, daily fear of what might happen. We take the good things around us for granted and just keep moving as fast as we can.
That’s definitely been me. And maybe that’s been you too.
Right now the coronavirus has been a giant pattern interrupt. Once the shock of the news subsides, we have the opportunity to look around at each other with fresh eyes. We have the chance to again notice those things that might have previously slipped by our awareness.
Increased awareness of danger also raises our awareness of the incredible beauty around us.
For example, Monday night I noticed that the full moon was one of the brightest I’ve seen in a long time. I also noticed that there were three, glorious planets in a graceful line up in the sky as I walked my dogs this morning in the early hours of the day. I noticed how the black birds were all calling to each other as the world started to wake up. And I noticed how delicious that first, hot sip of coffee was.
Bottom line: I have been pulled back to the present moment.
It’s ironic that we never have the assurance of anything more than the current moment and yet we slip into the routine of the every day and forget all about the gift of the present. Mortality is a powerful reminder.
Time becomes immediately more precious. Connections feel more important. We call into question what we prioritize as having value. We simply look at the world differently. We rub the blurriness from our eyes and begin to see clearly for the first time in a long while.
In every crisis, there is a gift. There can also be great pain and loss. But there is always a gift, if we can somehow find the presence of mind to look for it. Often that gift is who we will have become.
What might that gift look like for each of us?
I’ve been asking that question since the news of it came on the scene. In response, as I reconsider what I value, I will share my plan for tomorrow with you:
- Call my mom and tell her I’m sorry we argued and that I love her.
- Lay out the butter so that later I can make a big batch of my homemade chocolate chip cookies for my son and my husband. Why not spoil them a little bit in the middle of the week?
- Write a note of thanks to the friends that took us to dinner last weekend.
- Sit on the floor and play with my dogs.
- Write in my journal and explore the things I’m grateful for, and the musings of my mind.
- Burn that beautiful candle I got for Christmas but was saving for something, although I can’t remember what.
- Create sanctuary with abandon, at home, at work, and in every client project. Do what I can to make the world a calmer, healthier, more welcoming, and more beautiful place.
My plan is to show up, fully in each and every moment as best I can. It doesn’t take a pandemic to return to a state of mindfulness and appreciation for what we have. It doesn’t take a pandemic to remind us that love is the most important thing we can have, give and receive. But yet, here that pandemic is.
So what do we do with this gift that is offered?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and your plans.
With much love,