What an amazing time to be alive, isn’t it?
I was meditating last week and a little story popped into my mind. I was a soul not yet born into this body. I was looking down at the world with some kind of guide and the guide said, “Are you sure you want to be a human right now? During your lifetime there’s going to be a pandemic and it will be scary and sometimes tragic. The world will be forever changed. Plus, there won’t be much toilet paper.”
I can’t say for certain that this is how it works, but if it does then we all made this choice. I like to believe that I made the choice to jump in because I knew I would have the faculties and resources to manage whatever might happen, and to thrive and make a positive difference in others’ lives. I have a feeling that a part of you (maybe all of you) feels the same way – even if your mind tells you otherwise.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of this core truth. Fear is contagious and it has a frequency which (especially when resisted) can be intensely jarring. After all, that’s its job. It’s the emotional mechanism of our survival instinct. It’s trying to convince you that the only thing that matters right now is security. But humans evolved the ability to experience these animalistic impulses without letting them control us. One way is to open our eyes and notice all that’s good in the world – all of the evidence that our mind’s irrational concerns are untrue. Here’s some good news that’s come about through this tumultuous period.
- There is greater appreciation for the working class. More than ever before, many are recognizing that these beautiful people – the grocery store clerks, the UPS drivers, the garbage collectors, the utility company technicians – are keeping our world running. Let’s show them our gratitude.
- There is a pause in the habit of filling ourselves up with stuff. Sure, we’re stocking up on beans and rice, but for lots of people who have a habit of shopping to self-soothe, this period has initiated a rare break. It’s a time when we’re prompted to make do with what we have. Perhaps to repair, instead of replacing, what can be fixed.
- The environment is healing. How else could we have gotten the whole world to drive less? In such a short period of time we’ve seen the canals of Venice become clear enough to see fish and dolphins swimming in them, and the cloud of pollution over China has mostly disappeared. These may be short lived miracles, but it’s important for the world to witness that the environment is resilient. When this pandemic runs its course, environmental issues will still be here, and hopefully this vivid display of the impact of human activities will inspire us to develop permanent solutions.
- Everyone is working together. The world has never been so united in a common cause. We’re seeing unprecedented stories of cooperation. In England, there was a call for National Health Service volunteers and over 400,000 people signed up in the first 24 hours.
- We’re reminded of the value of our elders. Who could forget that line from Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (1970): “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” The threat of losing our senior citizens had helped the world recognize just how important they are. The young are helping the old. Stores are offering special hours for seniors only. This period has also highlighted how isolated many of our elders are, and it’s prompting a collective desire to honor them, to care for them better, and include them more.
- We’re recognizing the importance of community. The bigger and faster the world gets, the easier it is to feel disconnected. But social distancing has been a (sometimes painful) reminder of how much we need and value each other, and all sorts of novel ways of connecting have emerged from this crisis. We’ve seen virtual sing-alongs, virtual dinner parties, video chat board games, meetings in parks (maintaining six feet of distance) to make eye contact, tell jokes, and (non-contact) dance. People have been doing the “reach out and touch someone” thing with folks they haven’t been in contact with for years. We need each other.
- Unprecedented generosity. We’ve seen offerings of free products, free counseling, groceries, donations of medical supplies, sharing of toilet paper, help with yard work, and so many other ways in which people are stepping up to contribute.
- Teachers are getting the recognition they deserve. For all of the parents who are suddenly forced to home school their kids, there’s a mass awakening happening as to how hard it is to be a teacher and how much we depend on them, not just to educate our kids but to keep them safe, to hold space for them to develop and grow, and to create a healthy classroom culture for them to discover who they are and hone their gifts.
- We’re reminded of how many heroes there are. People everywhere are putting their health (perhaps their lives) on the line to serve others. Doctors, nurses, medical staff, caregivers of all kinds, receptionists, and everyone who continues to show up at jobs in essential businesses – these dedicated humans are putting the good of the community first and we should all be grateful for them.
We would love it if you’d share some good news in the comments below. What silver linings have you discovered? What’s beautiful in the world that’s being revealed in this crazy time?
Peter and Briana and Everyone at The Dragontree