The Gift of Corona

Did you know that the bright corona around a star is usually only seen during an eclipse, when everything else is dark?

I went to the grocery store yesterday and I could see barely contained panic in the eyes of the checkout guy. The muscles in his face stood out as he scanned my items. Touching things and trying not to touch them at the same time. I guessed that it might be related to coronavirus and said it must be hard to be around so many people for his work right now. He said yes, if it gets any worse, he’s just going to stay home.

I know this is a challenging time, and I honor the sadness and fear in all of us. I felt some bleakness start to overtake me for a moment, my thoughts spinning. Then I recognized that as my old programming, and that the tightness in my body was just my fight or flight instincts kicking in.

I remembered that this is one of those times where I don’t have a lot of control. That I can do my part, but I don’t have to fix this. It’s like that moment in a dream when I fall and know that there’s nothing to do but accept what is happening, to face it with curiosity.

I lost my husband last year and it was so painful that I can hardly describe it. And yet now there is new life in all of the cracks of my heart. I am grateful for the friendships I have and I am more honest and compassionate with myself than ever. Grief is a healer. Life is oh so different, and his death will always contribute to my world view and my ability to be here.

Things are going to get worse before they get better. Schools closed all over the US today. Other countries have shut down already.

And yet.

Can you pause right now for a moment to slowly exhale everything you’re holding in? Take another deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale that over the count of 10. And repeat one more time.

There’s an opportunity here. When all of our services close down to prevent the spread of the virus, it reminds me of how very interconnected we all are. We are not on our own in this life. We have support.

The man in the grocery store, he helps me get my food. He’s part of a long chain of beings who make it possible for me to live life the way I do. Bees, farmers, truck drivers, the woman who designs the label on my food, the man who cleans the floor, the people who built the building I shop in. My local farmer’s market, the people I barter with for cabbages in the summer.

Every single one with a heart and a life of their own. And that’s just a fraction of the people it takes to bring this all together. The people who hire me to teach them about dogs, the dogs who had trouble and needed help, the people who make the computer I type on, the people I learned from… we are all interconnected.

And this virus reminds me that we are all made of the same human bodies, that we are so similar that a virus can pass from one of us to the other.

Kindness, joy, love…let those also continue to be spread. Let the love I hold in my heart arrive into yours. May gratitude for the kind word or smile you got or gave recently brighten your day. Times like this can bring out some bad things, but they also bring out the very best in us. Let yourself be kind, and see tiny acts of kindness everywhere. We humans help each other in times of survival.

Remembering that we are mortal may be one of the best things to come of this all. I would love it if we could learn to help each other thrive, even when this is all over and cooled off.

Right now, there’s a big scare and we all feel a little more mortal. We are not making it out of this life alive.

But here’s the thing, we were always going to die.

That’s just how life works. So maybe we could help each other all the time, and remember we are all in this together. Not just in the middle of this challenge, but next year or the year after, when we have forgotten about this big scare. Let’s take kindness with us everywhere.

Being human is a terminal disease, and frankly, I think that’s a gift. Whatever I’m doing here as Grisha, it won’t last forever. We don’t have to worry about whether or not we will die. I can take that righ off of my to do list.

We will, eventually. Everyone I know, all of the dogs I will ever have, me. It’s one thing I know for sure. Remembering that I will not be here forever lets me take a deep breath, accept my mortality, and focus on seeing how many wonderful things happen to me every single day. We only have a short time here, and yet we have an abundance of individual moments.

I savor this experience, right now, and live my life with purpose. Meditation practice allows me to not take my spinning thoughts seriously. I let them go and shift back to the moment. I feel what needs to be felt in my body, and shift back to the present.

Every interaction I have, I strive to be authentic to my own spirit and also improve the lives of those around me.

Live is lived in moments. And right now, I have dogs on the couch next to me. I’m warm, my belly is full. I have an abundance of all of the things I need in life in this exact moment.

So yes, there’s a downside to coronavirus, but let’s look more at the corona part. What else might this affect for the good?

  • People have time to spend with family.
  • People may remember to value contact with one another.
  • Dogs on walks not being constantly petted by strangers, for fear of transmitting a virus. There may be a whole generation of puppies who show less reactivity because they were able to go on walks without being accosted. In Sweden, for example, people don’t pet dogs out in public and I think it’s great for them.
  • People may prioritize their mental health for a while, taking a break from the go-go-go world we have created. This is a good time to practice daily meditation (or morning/night), start getting therapy online, read wholehearted books. If you need some ideas to shift toward wholeness, I teach an online course called How to Human. It’s packed full of the tools and techniques that have been most helpful to me.
  • People spending more time outdoors, in nature.
  • People reconnecting with the ones they care about, using video chat, etc.
  • Basic patterns of life are disrupted, so it’s a good time to develop new habits and hobbies, if done mindfully.
  • It’s a good time to take a real look at what you do that feeds your soul and spirit, what helps the world be a better place.

Yes, all kinds of other things are possible. But we all get to choose for ourselves what to do right now. Do we take it as a challenge or a catastrophe? Regardless of the downside, there is always an up side.

We have, right now, a sort of permission slip to do something outside of the ordinary. Expectations of everyday life have shifted for a little while, as the world goes into hibernation.

The darkness is the best time to see what is light inside ourselves.

It is all going to be okay. Things always work out, one way or other. Life is more than okay. It’s actually pretty amazing.

What opportunities for wholehearted living and kindness are opening up right now?
What healthy and joyful things have you been resisting?

What are you doing with the gift of corona?

Also I’ll leave you with this video. If you watch only one thing on the Internet this week, let it be this.

(photo credit at top: image by Wikipedia)