As a PhD student, my research does not always go smoothly. Actually — it rarely does. A few weeks ago, I found myself in one of those all-too-familiar situations where things were not working out the way I had planned. I had nicely organized my experiments for the coming weeks but quickly noticed I was behind on schedule. I was desperately clinging onto my original plan and ended up frustrated and at loss of patience.
It took a pandemic crisis for me to stop ruminating and take a step back. And I went way back.
In our current western society, we need to go fast. We need to make choices, we need to produce, we need to get a degree, get a job, we need to show up, dress up, speak up, always impress, never disappoint. We need to go forward, always.
We need to.
If this current crisis teaches us anything, it’s for us to learn how to stop and take a step back. To step away from daily struggles and failing experiments, and go back to asking fundamental questions. To re-evaluate our lives and the world we live in. To rethink the choices we make regarding ourselves, our loved ones and our planet. To reconnect with our core values, our actions and our intentions.
I’m not claiming that that’s easy. With the insecurity of not knowing how long this will last, the increasing stress of not being able to plan out coming months, the pain of having to say our final goodbyes to people close to our hearts, the financial burden this situation creates for so many of us — we have a lot of reasons to feel distressed and worried right now. But isn’t it that even the most challenging times trigger self-growth and open up doors to new and brighter opportunities?
As Ella Fitzgerald sang:
“Into each life some rain must fall, but too much is falling in mine. Into each heart some tears must fall, but some day the sun will shine.”
If, from the comforts of our own homes, we all take time to gently yet deeply reflect upon ourselves and our lives, support our loved ones and accept their loving thoughts, maybe — just maybe, we can start building a different world.
A world in which we all share a common mindset. One of full commitment and connectedness to the essence of life.
Two friends recently shared two incredible poems which align beautifully with the above, and truly hit home. By sharing them here, I hope they will ignite something in you, too.
“What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath - the most sacred of times? Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Center down. And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. (You could hardly deny it now.) Know that our lives are in one another’s hands. (Surely, that has come clear.) Do not reach out your hands. Reach out your heart. Reach out your words. Reach out all the tendrils of compassion that move, invisibly, where we cannot touch. Promise this world your love - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so long as we all shall live.” — - LYNN UNGAR
“And, what if… We subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, that there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work… That all is interconnected. What if… The virus is here to help us? To reset. To remember. What is truly important. Reconnecting with family and community. Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs, All get a break. Parts of China are seeing blue sky and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down. Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time). Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home. An invitation to turn inward, A deep meditation, Rather than the usual extroverted going out to self-soothe. To reconnect with self, ’What is really important to me?’ A reset economically. The working poor. The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US. The need for paid sick leave. How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work? To face our mortality, Check back into “living” life rather than simply working, working, working. To reconnect with our elders, who are so susceptible to this virus. And, washing our hands, How did that become a “new” thing that we needed to remember?! But, yes, we did. The presence of Grace for all. There is a shift underway in our society, What if it is one that is favorable for us? What if this virus is an ally in our evolution? In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment. An offering from my heart this morning. Offered as another perspective. Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution. It was time for a change, we all knew that. And, change has arrived. What if…” — - GURPREET K. GILL
Whether you are struggling with the disease yourself, whether you are a frontline worker, a single parent, a confused teenager, or anyone in between — know that you are not alone. These challenging times have the power to bring people’s hearts closer together in spirit.
And my heart truly goes out to each and every one of you.