COVID | Reflections

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 most of us have ever encountered and yet, at the same time, there is so much hope and inspiration: the honor and integrity of healthcare workers literally risking their lives to care for people with this disease, low paid grocery workers showing up to work so people have food to eat, the kindness and caring of neighbors calling to check on neighbors, the generosity of ordinary people donating funds and meals to help those financially devastated, the creativity and inherent good cheer of humanity as they play virtual concerts, perform dance, or provide badly needed comedy on social media. And there is so much more. The solidarity underlying all of this is powerful, hopeful and nourishing to the heart, because while many of us are social distancing, we seem to also be remembering our human family. We stay far back from the UPS 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. The earth and all its creatures also seem to be appreciating the pause 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 forget to breathe, to play, to sleep, to enjoy nature, and to appreciate the friendship and love of others, can take this moment in time, this “pause” to take stock. In other words, 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 would like to share your experience from this time, please consider completing the 3 minute survey that Health Promotion Strategies LLC has compiled. Your name is not asked. Your answers will be very helpful in learning what is the common experience and how our society should make changes going forward.

Thank you for reading,
Carol S. Ryan

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