Carol Ryan, President of Health Promotion Strategies, LLC:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”— Charles Dickens, a Tale of Two Cities, 1859
Charles Dickens could be writing this today about our experience in the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is a scary and dark time unlike any we have encountered, and yet, there is much hope and inspiration.
We see the honor and integrity of healthcare workers (literally) risking their lives to care for those stricken with this disease; low paid grocery workers risking infection so people have food to eat; everywhere is the kindness and caring of neighbors calling to check on each other; and the generosity of ordinary people donating funds and meals to help those financially devastated is inspirsing. As is the creativity and inherent good cheer of humanity as artists play virtual concerts, perform dance, or provide badly needed comedy on social media.
And there is so much more. The solidarity underlying this crisis is powerful, hopeful, and nourishing to the heart. Because while many of us are social distancing, we are also remembering our human family. We may stand back from the delivery person who has been deemed an essential worker, yet we make sure to smile and thank her, because she may be feeling isolated, and frightened. And what is more uplifting than seeing the earth and all its creatures appreciating the pause in human activity, as the water and air quickly regain their cleanliness and purity.
Many people are suffering, and lives are being lost right now, and yet we also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a step back: to pause, and look at life with clarity.
Can we take this brief time as an opportunity to reflect on our own lives? Can our leaders? What has worked for us in “normal times”, and what has not?
Those of us who have relentlessly focused on work and achievement, who nearly forget to breathe, to play, to sleep, to enjoy nature, and to appreciate the friendship and love of others, can use this rare pause to take stock.
We have the chance to reframe our reality. We have an opportunity to understand what is important and to take the leadership in our own lives and in our communities now.
This is a serious question I have been asking myself:
When this is over, if I survive it, will I be satisfied to go back and live my life in exactly the same way as before, or can I use what I am learning now to change my life for the better?
In the series developed for these times by Prem Rawat, aptly entitled “Lockdown”, Mr. Rawat spoke beautifully about appreciation for our life and breath because we are on this earth and we are alive. (premrawat.com/) This is the existential question: has facing down death helped me to better appreciate life?
If you are interested in seeing what many of you had to say about your experiences from this time, here are the results of an anonymous survey about just this topic: COVID-19 Survey Responses
Thank you for reading,
Carol S. Ryan