Unprecedented is too tame a word for our circumstances. All across the world people are sheltering in place. Our collective lives have been disrupted and today we are still in the first phase of this global predicament, waiting to see where it goes.
As in all adverse situations, some stop acting and others step into action. Neither is better, either is appropriate. Our emotions go up and down with the uncertainty, and throughout it all there is sadness as we see our plans go by the wayside, experience the illness that is spreading through our world and the inevitable passing of many. It’s a tough time.
Nonetheless, this is a portal into deep meaning. The whole world is interrupted. Our sense of safety and health, the economy, and social distance… all disrupted. This is what is known in mythological terms as an ordeal. Most ordeals are not chosen. But, some are. Examples of those we would never choose include the death of a loved one, a debilitating illness, sudden loss of a home. Examples of those that some choose include working on the frontlines of the pandemic, going into battle, running into a burning house to save someone. While ordeals are horrific, they offer us a deep connection… the opportunity to reevaluate life, to choose what is really important, and to commit to a new way of being.
This is why you sometimes hear people with cancer saying, ‘This is the best thing that ever happened to me.’ They are not really talking about cancer. They are talking about what happened inside as a result of cancer. They not only realized what they really cared about, they organized their life around it. They made changes that ordinary life kept at bay under the illusion of stability. When your situation is no longer safe, you look danger in the eye and commit to your deepest beliefs. Perhaps it is a newfound sanctuary in your spirituality or a tender appreciation of the small moments with loved ones. Each of us is different. But, when our lives center on that which we truly care about, an abiding peace that surfaces, pokes its head through our mundane defenses and brings with it real hope of living a life well chosen.
Perhaps the world will shift as a result of this pandemic, as we realize how interconnected we all are and as we take actions to protect others, like staying home when we are healthy.
What do you care most about, and how can you bring it into your life now?
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”