“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
All we wanted was to keep minding our own businesses. Being left alone is surely not too much to ask, isn’t it?
Yet history, as usual, ignored this humble wish of ours, and we were condemned to the Chinese curse of ‘living in interesting times.’ (Though the Chinese people, who are locked down for very long weeks by now, probably feel that ‘mind-numbing times’ is more like it.)
However, as terrifying as this worldwide crisis is, not to mention how inconvenient it is, it may bring upon us gifts as well.
People who believe that things happen for a reason, or to despite, have no doubt that the Coronavirus is here to teach us a lesson. But even if the virus has no divine destiny, the situation it creates for us can teach us. A lot.
If only we’ll look for the insights lying at our fingertips.
The plague, and the shutdown it brought over billions of people, forces us to live an alternative reality.
We all experience a new kind of life, for better or for worse.
And alternatives are essentially opportunities. Though they’re sometimes unwelcomed and unwanted, they often can offer us new possibilities.
Alternatives give us choices we didn’t recognize before, and therefore they give us the ability to improve our lives.
When I, for one, was worried sick about my daughter who volunteered under conditions I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (if I had one), I allowed myself to binge-watch foolish TV series for days.
And found that I actually enjoy giving up on everything and being useless.
Which was an awesome lesson.
One of many we can embrace.
Doing Way, Way Less
As the Coronavirus pulled the world’s plug, we had to stop doing many of the things we used to do.
Or running. Both physically and metaphorically.
And many other things we love just as much.
In many occasions, we learned that we could do very well without these indispensable activities.
For some of us, quitting the rat race is a dream come true.
For others, it’s a nightmare come true. At least in the first place.
Because many of us find that slowing down is calming, not to say absolutely fabulous.
Slowing down enables us to figure out what we want life to look like.
It enables us to do more of the things that make us happy.
It enables us to enjoy our time.
That’s why many of us may choose, when things come back to normal, to kick lots of the activities that sneakily turned our previous lives into a living hell.
And choose a happier way of life.
Doing Way, Way More
Kicking some crappy activities will leave us with more of our most precious resource of all – time.
We’ll be able to keep wasting this time by doing the things we don’t really enjoy doing but do anyway (like brainlessly staring at screens, habitually).
On the other hand, we can take the surprising step of intently picking what makes us happy.
People, for example.
Well, not all of them, obviously. Only the best ones, who fortunately happen to belong to our marvelous social circle.
We learn, nowadays, that
“Hell is the absence of the people we long for,”
As Emily St. John Mandel phrased for us so well. Therefore, if our family members and friends didn’t get on our nerves by now, chances are we’ll love to see more of them in the future. At long last, we’ll do anything to have good times (and bad times) with the people we miss.
I, for instance, stick excitedly to my daughter whenever she’s at home, to her great surprise.
Apart from hugging our loved ones and any available passerby, after the crisis, we’ll probably also want more of the exhausting activities we can’t have nowadays.
Sport, for example, (preferably done by other people).
Spending time in nature (preferably without making too much effort).
Or traveling (preferably with loved ones who’ll make the plans and the arrangements).
Being stuck at home for so long can help us clarify our wishes and our dreams. Once we’re let out, we’ll be able to live lives that fit us much more.
Live much better lives.
And maybe, for us, it just what this crisis is all about.
Doing Far, Far Beyond
As surprising as it may sometimes seem, this Coronavirus crisis is not only about us. It is a global catastrophe, created by humanity’s global recklessness, which should definitely send us to our rooms to think about what we’ve done.
Therefore, some of the changes we’ll have to make will be at the public level. (That is, if we’re interested in preventing the bigger lethal disasters that lie ahead.)
We will have to save our planet. Simply because we depend on it. Each one of us should not only reduce their own ecological footprint, but also demand our leaders to do whatever it takes to stop climate change.
Before it’s (even more) too late.
In addition, we’ll have to start collaborating with everyone else, because we can’t do it on our own.
We’ll have to build supportive economies and societies in our countries.
We’ll have to make peace with our human brothers all over the world.
We’ll have to help the people who need us. Help the currently locust-plagued starving countries, the refugees, the immigrants.
And we’ll have to be helped by them.
Besides, we better stop eating suffering animals, the doom of both our health and our conscience.
It’s not easy, indeed. It may demand some effort.
As Richard Hooker reminds us,
“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.”
Yet, we have no choice. We must stop sawing the branch we’re sitting on.
We better lose some than lose it all.
We have to save others to save us all.
At the end of the day, helping others will help us, too. We can’t be really happy while others are suffering. Helping others will not only help us survive, but it will also help us thrive.
It will help us be happier.
Doing What’s Best For Us All
We better open our eyes, and our minds, and look at this global pandemic as a wake-up call.
Because the writing is on the wall.
We have to make global changes in order to survive.
We have to make personal changes in order to thrive.
We were given a break. We were shown an alternative.
We can, and should, make choices.
We can, and should, make changes.
So each one of us can look curiously at life, formerly and currently, and ask:
What am I longing for?
What am I definitely and absolutely not longing for?
And choose which changes to make. And be the change we want to see in the world.
One comparison at a time.
One change at a time.
The post was first published on Wake Up World