Tag Archives: pandemic

The Compass in our Hand

“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”
– W.S. Merwin –

 

Overnight my world became more silent. The ceasing of so much noise and activity was not planned or expected. It just happens when a pandemic comes calling. Not in a million light years would I have predicted this or seen it coming. Nonetheless it has. Very few lives remain unaffected.

‘Lockdown’ has brought us many things. Change is one of them. We are assigned a new way of going about our daily business. Change requires renegotiation. There is a give and a take in this new world. We grieve the loss of so many things we took for granted … and we also stare wide eyed at the ‘new’.

The ‘new’ confronts us with the realisation that ‘normal’ is simply an imagined, constructed idea. The ‘old’ normal has disappeared, and, yes, we miss it, but, surprisingly, we also go on. Our survival never has and never will be dependent on ‘normal’. ‘Normal’ is simply the story a culture, society or tribe tells itself. ’Normal’ is the myth peddled as truth. Sadly, the shaming of those who do not adhere to ’normal’ is brutal, while those who colour within the lines of Normal’s strict Code of Conduct Colouring book, are rewarded.

So, in this new, silent, unexpected, changing world we realise that ‘normal’ can be a drug that puts us to sleep as it sings the lullabies of ‘familiar’. Adrift in this sea of ‘normal’ we sleep, under the spell of promises of ’success’. Until a pandemic … then we wake up, and we realise we have a compass in our hands and a neglected sail we can hoist.

“I don’t ever want to go back to eating out that much.”
“I realised how … has spoken to/treated me in the past is not okay.”
“I have never paid so much attention to my health before.”
“I didn’t realise that silence was so important.”
“I don’t want to go back to working so hard that I never stop.”
“I can’t remember why I stopped drawing, but I have started again.”
“Is staring into space a skill?”
“Why was I so worried about what everyone thought?”
“I am reading all my books again and I forgot how much I loved reading.”
“It never occurred to me that a day spent in pyjamas could be so wonderful.”
“Community is all that really matters to me.”

These are snippets of the many conversations I am having at the moment. It seems like the pandemic has had an alarm clock effect. We have awoken from our ‘normal’ trance and are no longer okay to have our stories dominated by the values of others. We are the experts of our own story. Our values, like a compass, have always been in our hands. So we wake from our value amnesia and look at them like someone recognising a long, lost friend.

In this ever-changing, strange new world, why not consider your life in light of the hopes and dreams you hold for it? What has sabotaged those dreams? Are you okay with that? If not, what does this resistance tell you about you as a person and the values you hold?

I don’t know how long we will live with the effects of this pandemic. I would take a guess and say there are years ahead of us. ‘Normal’, as we previously knew it, may never again return. May I suggest that as we sail into this new world, let’s resist the urge to fall asleep again to the beguiling tune of someone else’s dominant story. You have a compass in your hand, a way of deriving meaning out of life that is linked to your values and what you hold precious. It is a gift. Read it and hoist the sails!

“The compass opened, if I may so express myself, the universe. “
-Charles de Montesquieu-

 

 

When Global Crisis Comes Knocking at our Door …

… you can say “it’s a hoax” and “it will go away”, but like world leaders have found out, this was not the case for COVID-19. A crisis does not go away because some demagogue wishes it so. A crisis like a pandemic knocks at the door, then bashes it in and unleashes hell.

COVID-19 has crept in like an invisible terrorist that has taken the world hostage. Randomly, it chooses victims, and with heinous cruelty, it focuses on those already weak and vulnerable. The rest of us are required to co-operate. One wrong move might mean the death of another. Suddenly, words like ‘independent’ and ‘individual’ are exposed for the fraud they are. Our individuality means little if we cannot collaborate with or recognise the importance of ‘all’. Solidarity is what COVID-19 fears the most.

Solidarity can only truly emerge when we deconstruct the barriers that have been set up through toxic narratives. Toxic stories that, sadly, have been propagated through the clever messaging of some politics or the fear-mongering of some religions. Toxic narratives that divide humans into those who matter and those who don’t. Toxic narratives that create a Messiah-complex for the powerful, and diminish those seen as ‘weak’. Toxic narratives that divide us by race, nationality, gender, age, ethnicity, religion … Toxic narratives that do their very best to blind us from one of our great skills of resistance: Love.

When crisis comes knocking we have a choice to make – selfishness or love? A hard choice when we have been conditioned to listen to an alluring and embedded cultural story. A story that attempts to convince us that the pursuit of our own needs and wants is the most important activity if we want to survive. Crisis builds its devastation on that idea. COVID-19 is reliant on selfishness for its survival.

So when Global Crisis comes knocking at our door we have some decisions to make. Each of us decides what meal we serve this viral terrorist. Its favourite meal of human selfishness and greed? Or a lethal dose of sacrificial love?

Love that washes its hands often, so as not to spread the disease to another.
Love that buys just what it needs, and maybe just a little more to give to a neighbour in need.
Love that stays home instead of indulging itself at some packed venue.

Love that goes to great length in order to stand between this terrorist and the vulnerable and says, ‘Not on my watch’.

Love that picks up the phone and checks in on family and neighbours.
Love that gathers the table of life participants with tenderness. It speaks to Fear, Grief, and Anxiety, not with irritation and anger, but gentleness and kindness, recognising their role in protecting our lives.
Love that speaks to all of us in times like this from a sacred text written long ago … that there is nothing greater than love (including a terrorist virus) … that nothing separates us from love (including a terrorist virus) … and that in the end, all things may fail but that both in death and in life, love endures …

Selfishness in these times may bring us momentary comfort until we realise how we have enabled a pandemic and contributed to another person’s heartache. Love, on the other hand, calls us to choose the narrow path, the difficult path, of loving our neighbour as ourselves.

So what do we do when a Global Crisis bashes in our door and interrupts our peaceful lives? We respond by unleashing a virus of our own – a virus of love, kindness, compassion, respect, and consideration. The rest is History … because Love Always Wins.