As the vaccines roll out, we feel cautious jubilation for the ending of this time of constriction and death, but also uncertainty about what’s next.
What will it be like? Who will I be?
Let’s face it. The world we left in March of 2020 simply doesn’t exist anymore.
The pandemic swept normal away with it in a tsunami of worldwide devastation and restriction.
Humanity was brought to its knees all at once, all over the world by a microscopic organism on a rampage. Nothing was left untouched.
Every crisis that we face in life changes us. Death, sickness, divorce, accidents. They all force us to dig deep inside ourselves, asking us to look within for solace, understanding, and strength.
But a crisis of this magnitude is fundamentally world-changing.
It prompts all of us, everywhere, to examine our lives, our institutions, our societies, our beliefs, our relationships, and our very identities.
Many died, and the rest of us went through a kind of collective near-death experience, a global spiritual wake-up call.
We have been given the opportunity to see how flimsy our house of cards really was, but at the same time it has also shown us our resilience as individuals and as communities. The pandemic elicited the magnificent ability we have to be there for each other, to make music on rooftops and sing to one other from balconies, to bring groceries and cheer to our elder neighbors, and to create humor amidst the fear. We found reservoirs of strength, love, and endurance within ourselves we didn’t know we had including tenacity, the ability to persevere, courage, resourcefulness, strength, hope, and hidden reserves of kindness and patience.
At a very deep level, the pandemic has reminded us of our humanity. It has, in a sense, called upon us to reassert our humanity.
As we find our way back into the world, into the fullness of our lives, we will undoubtedly recognize just how much we have each changed. We are simply not the same people we were in March of 2020.
For many of us, our boundaries have shifted. We are less tolerant of things that cause pain of any kind. Sexism. Racism. Highly biased reporting. Amassing stuff for the sake of amassing stuff. Anything that hurts children. Media that misrepresents whole groups of people. Wealth inequality. Pointless tasks. Long commutes. Healthcare that doesn’t.
Our expectations have changed. We want more of what works for everyone, not just the few. More inclusion, more equality, more depth and meaning in education, more relevance in religion, more personal satisfaction in work, more reality in our media, more actual service to our human needs from our institutions. More kindness and compassion and truth and sincerity and authenticity from everyone everywhere.
The questions we ask ourselves now as we adjust to who we have become and who we are still becoming are not just about our continued material existence, but about MEANING. These deeper questions arise from our souls, our core being. What is life for? Who am I? Why am I here? How do I BE? What is the life that I really crave? What kind of relationships do I want to have? Who do I want to be as a parent? A partner and lover? A creator? A dreamer? A soul?
Along with challenging our personal identities, this shared pandemic experience has shown us the permeability of national borders. It asks us to examine the impact our lives have beyond our small circle of friends and family and to acknowledge the interconnectedness of all life on our tiny, vulnerable globe.
One thing we have learned from this pandemic above all else is that we do matter. Each one of us. Each of us has made a difference in someone else’s life during the pandemic, and each of us has had the experience of how important human connection is and felt gratitude for that. Our lives have reflected the macrocosm in the microcosm. We have seen how dependent we are upon each other, in big ways and in small, and we must not lose that understanding, because it is what will recreate our world.
We are on a precipice, right at the edge of the potential to birth something new, a world that will be infinitely more satisfying, sustainable, healthy, kind, and, well, HUMAN.
If we don’t choose what is meaningful and real and life-affirming and inclusive of all life now, we will not only have lost the planet to pollution and over population and poverty and greed, we will have lost ourselves.
Surely, we must concede that we cannot go back to what we were doing before the pandemic and expect a different outcome.
Next time it may not be a pandemic. It might be war or terrorism or artificial intelligence misused or the food supply chain completely disrupted or our water supplies poisoned, like a global Flint, Michigan.
But who am I to change the world? you may well ask. That sounds like too tall of an order. I can’t remake the world all by myself. No, and you’re not expected to. But we can. Together. It starts right here with realizing the power we already have. The power to choose. The power to believe. The power to re-think, re-know, re-see everything. Including who we think we are.
We are more powerful than we have realized.
It is an illusion that the world is run only by the few at the apex of money and influence. Who do you think placed them there? The world is made by the many. When we truly realize this and embrace it, the center of power will become clear. It lives in each of us.
We create the world anew by first shifting how we see ourselves, how we run our energy, how we choose to perceive others, and, finally, how we express that in action.
But I’m not a mover and a shaker, you say. I don’t want to run for office or stand on the street corner with petitions. You don’t have to.
There are myriad opportunities, even in these restricted times to practice more kindness, more presence, more caring, more forgiveness, more openness to others. We can start by acknowledging the exhausted teen who is packing groceries for us. Have a conversation with the checker and find out a little about who they really are. Hold the door open for someone and wish them well. Slow down and let that aggressive driver go ahead of you without giving them the bird. Assume more positive things about people’s motivations, give them the benefit of the doubt. Why not?
Can’t change the whole world that way, you argue? I beg to differ. It is the small interactions by all of us, over time, that will, indeed, change the world. The most important choice we make is the one we make right now, this moment. Accept it. Your life does matter, your thoughts do count, and your attitude and choices do shape reality, one moment at a time.
Everything we do in a positive way and with positive intention affects everything else in a positive way. That is Metaphysics 101. We do not live in a vacuum. This world, this plane of reality is connected molecule to molecule, electron to electron. Where we put our attention and the quality of our attention changes things.
If you doubt it, look up quantum physics.
Everything affects everything.
That is our spiritual wake up call.
Who will I choose to be? Who will you choose to be?
This is a great time of transformation on the planet. Things are coming to light. Old wounds, transgressions, evils, and inequalities are surfacing to be recognized and healed. But more than that, WE are coming to light.
It’s time to move from being spiritual children to spiritual adults.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
The pandemic has been awful, and something I wish we never had to go through. But it has also provided a massive wake-up call to us as humans and as souled beings, all over this globe.
How much compassion, loving-kindness, open-mindedness, forgiveness, gratitude, creativity, optimism, inclusion, positivity, and willingness to re-see, re-think, and re-know ourselves can we really expect?
Honestly, after what we’ve been through together, I think we can expect the world of ourselves.