As you try to maintain the collective sanity during this maybe-last-first phase of the coronavirus, you can be sure the pandemic is wearing on everyone.
Though at first the pandemic looked impossible to endure, you have endured. You’ve self-quarantined, isolated, hibernated, bloviated, and generally imploded a few times. It’s only natural. No need to pile blame on yourself or others.
Coronavirus is yet another outside pathogen that invaded the human species. We’ve had the bubonic plague three times, SARS, MERS, Legionnaire Disease, H1N1 (swine flu), yellow fever, HIV/AIDS, the flu pandemic of 1918 (Spanish Flu), Asian Flu, and quite a few Cholera pandemics.
Several of the black plagues (Bubonic) wiped out over half of the earth’s population. Most were truly catastrophic.
In modern times, especially with expert medical progress, it is preferable to create a mindset of self-reflection while you move through the unfamiliar path of self-quarantine. There will come a time when the veil of seclusion is partially lifted, and there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
As you have probably guessed, however, it will be impossible to go back to what was normal before coronavirus became a new word added to your vocabulary.
Besides self-reflection, what other mindsets can we add to our awareness arsenal? What other ways can we utilize emotionally and mentally to mitigate our shock and awe at what has transpired during the last seven or eight weeks? What other tools are available for self-preservation?
Sometimes a writer discovers a phrase or an article that inspires a provocative topic for discussion, either for writing or for conversation. I recently read a quote by Karen Blixen, also known as Isak Dinesen, the Danish writer most notable for her novel Our of Africa.
She described three important essentials for living a life of consequence: courage, love, and humor.
Courage is a word with many implications. The standard definition is to have strength in the face of pain or grief. Another way of parsing courage is the ability to face fear, either your own personal fear, or the fear of the unknown. Courage requires a strong mind, emotional stability, moral turpitude, and spiritual enlightenment.
It is your awareness that allows you to stand in awe and terror of the coronavirus pandemic with all its facets and implications.
It is not easy to bear witness to the dying, to the heroes on the ground who put themselves in harm’s way; to see the essential and non-essential people provide care, comfort, and consolation to those who are sick and alone. From awareness to spirit, from spirit to a strong mind, from a strong mind to a test of your character.
You bear witness every day to the events that change lives and to the tragedies that take place in front of your eyes. Even though you are not physically present, your presence in a collective sense adds value to the courageous fight to lessen the circumstances of the pandemic.
When someone speaks of love, the go-to reference is usually romantic love. However, love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, to the deepest interpersonal affection, and to the simplest pleasure.
Within the context of the pandemic you are living with, love is a spiritual mindset, the universal concept of personal ties or devotion to mankind in all its iterations. This kind of love arises from benevolence, inspiring kindness for everything that is human.
I hurt when you hurt. I feel pain when you feel pain. This is what binds mankind together. It is caused by a cosmic affection for what makes us human, warts and all.
We know that humans are not perfect, so we forgive the other for causing pain and suffering. And we praise and are devoted to the idea that, although humans are imperfect, when they are called upon to go beyond their capabilities, they become heroes. Their deeds become mythological.
Admiration is also a form of love. It is a universal emotion, arising out of an unconscious spiritual connection. You witness the devotion of those who are fighting the virus, and it makes you proud and gives you an emotional connection to those who fight to keep you safe.
Humor is the capacity to perceive or express that something is funny or amusing. Humor is also a mood or a state of mind that creates a lightness of being by juxtaposing the dark side of a situation to a lighter side of the circumstance.
Humans cannot live without humor; cannot live without laughter, or a smile, or a twinkle in the eyes. Humor gives you emotional balance, good health, and fortifies you against the unfathomable and unknowable.
Faced with the ongoing pandemic, a virus that attacks without discrimination makes you defenseless against so much sorrow – except for your ability to recognize humor, remember a smile, a funny antic, an amusing story.
Understanding that humor is the essential ingredient for acknowledging the existence of both sorrow and joy is the key to a happy life.
Your sanity and safety rests with conscious attention to maintaining your courage in the face of adversity, your love for mankind and its goodness, and the inclusion of humor to balance your mind, body, and spirit.
Your capacity for developing different mindset – courage, love, and humor – will gracefully guide you through the next phases of the pandemic.
What was your mindset at the beginning of the pandemic? Is your mindset the same today? What changed? If nothing, what can you do to exercise courage, love, and humor in spite of the current situation? Let’s have a discussion!