Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, March 20, 2020! This is a rare and precious day (during some incredibly difficult times) that will never come again.
Scrolling through social media, on the news and in conversations, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of “what ifs” regarding COVID-19: “What if China had done this?”, “What if Trump had done that?”, “What if the CDC had done this?”, “What if, fill in the blank, that?” I also hear a lot of “What if I get sick?” and “What if we go into a recession?” Although our mind really wants us to entertain these “what ifs,” all these shoulda/coulda/woulda’s essentially do is feed resentments and propagate fear.
Look, I get it! In hindsight it is easy to say we/they should have done this or that. Although not as much as before, I still catch myself going there meow and then. It comes so easy to point out how people in positions of power are, “not doing their job!” But where does this get us, really? (Despite my background in healthcare and what my ego tells me, it may be quite arrogant to think that I, someone who is outside of the decision-making arena, would have a clear understanding of what we as a nation, state, county and town should be doing anyway!) Of course, we can learn from our experience and I hope that the people in these critical positions are taking copious notes. But how does focusing on all the “what ifs” help my and your situation? All it really does is create more stress and anger and feeds our righteous thinking. More anger, stress and worry are the last things we need – these states compromise our overall well-being, including the immune system!
How about this: What if we remain present?
Regardless of what we think should or should not have happened in the past, that does not change what we need to do now! All the “what ifs” and reflections are not going to change the current situation. Do we really want to waste precious time pointing fingers and fueling divisive anger? I hope not. This present moment is our only starting point.
I want to pause here and state that there is of course usefulness in reflecting on how we got to where we are. Contemplating past actions inform us what to do next time, should there be a next time. I also feel that it’s prudent to expect that things will be disrupted and the responsible thing to do is be prepared – stock up on a few things, in other words. But please, do so with others in mind.
Everyone around the globe is being affected by this virus.
I feel like people in our first-world society are waking up to the fact that we are not immune to threats against our most basic needs. We are having to face some of our deepest fears. We need to stay present!
I’ve heard about stories where kids in those “other” countries must walk through war zones to get to school. In my graduate food ethics coursework, I read plenty of case studies where families and communities were uncertain if they would get a next meal. Worrying, imagining alternative scenarios and thinking things should be different than they are does not help these people, and it won’t help us. We can take action neither in the past nor in the future: the present moment is where the work needs to be done.
If you don’t want COVID-19, do what is suggested – wash your hands, try not to touch your face and stay away from others – practice social distancing. The reality is, either you will, or you will not get the virus. Worrying and rehashing “what ifs” won’t help. There are more useful and beneficial things that we can do with our mind!
Within the confusion, dismay and fear I am seeing some incredibly heart-warming and inspiring acts of loving kindness and compassion. I am seeing people reach out and help those who are at greater risk secondary to underlying health conditions. I’m seeing people exercising more and re-engaging with treasured hobbies. I’m seeing people use this time to meditate, read and learn. In recognizing the importance of socializing, I am seeing people come together online. We are so blessed to have this technology in this confusing and difficult time. Social media has turned out to be quite a blessing! I’m also seeing less divisiveness and more cooperation.
Throughout history, tragedy, disaster and misfortune have brought people together. If we can stay present and look for ways to nourish ourselves and to be useful instead of pointing out all the things we perceive as being done wrong and if we can stop creating scenarios of what may or may not happen as a result, what emerges from the days of COVID-19 could potentially be transformational in how we define what it means to live a meaningful life and how we interact in our relationships! If ever there was a situation that confirms that there is no certainty and that we are all connected and dependent upon one another, this is it! Please, do your best to be present and embrace these challenging times as an opportunity to remind yourself of what is truly important – how we emerge from this is up to us.
I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!
With Prayers for Peace and Good Health,
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