Call me crazy, but to me, Covid is a gift…a blessing in disguise. In spite of the little we know about it, the Coronavirus possesses the uncanny ability to uncover Truth…to reveal things, both individually and collectively, that we would have preferred to keep hidden.
We’ve been backed into a corner, forced to seriously consider our values and belief systems, reevaluate our priorities, and courageously act in ways that honor what we claim to be true. Very early on, I realized that this was a proving ground, of sorts. The Universe was asking us to put our money where our mouth is – put up or shut up. We were being pushed to live authentically…or not. We could continue to live in ways that honored others’ beliefs over our own or in ways that further separated us into warring tribes, but to do so would simply kick the can further down the road. At some point, it would become too uncomfortable to continue to cover up that which we keep hidden, even from ourselves.
In contemplating my values and priorities in the face of this virus, the first question I had to ask myself was, “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to safeguard my physical body?” Human beings are naturally hardwired to be risk adverse. The physical body is what houses our soul, and in order to have a physical experience on earth, we need to take some modicum of care to keep the physical body safe.
However, life isn’t just about playing it safe. At many points during our lives, we make decisions that balance safety with joy or pleasure, in order to live a full life. That might be as simple as riding a roller coaster or as daring as parachuting out of an airplane. A life lived well is not simply about death (or pain) avoidance. I believe that this virus is pushing us to define those boundaries. How much risk are we willing to take in order to die knowing that we’ve truly lived?
Are we willing to allow our elderly parents to die alone in a nursing home? Are we willing to watch a child suffer in the hospital because both parents are not allowed to be present? Are we willing to get married in a magistrate’s office with no friends or family around? Are we willing to bury our loved ones with no witnesses, no one with whom to share our grief? What about births? Loved ones are no longer welcome to meet the newborn; rather, they are relegated to waving through the window from the front yard. Children are isolated from their friends, unable to share hugs or toys. No birthday parties, no playdates. Disabled vets and other socially isolated folks have now gone at least 5 months without human contact, and there’s no end in sight.
These situations are real and complex. There are no easy answers. But, I believe it is imperative that we take this time to consider the implications of our decisions. The “bug” is providing us a beautiful, sacred opportunity to earnestly evaluate what brings us joy, what makes our lives worth living. Are we living that life?
Charles Eisenstein, public speaker and author, in his beautiful, thought-provoking essay Coronation, implores us to consider “how much of life we want to sacrifice at the altar of security. If it keeps us safer, do we want to live in a world where human beings never congregate? Do we want to wear masks in public all the time? Do we want to be medically examined every time we travel, if that will save some number of lives a year? Are we willing to accept the medicalization of life in general, handing final sovereignty over our bodies to medical authorities (as selected by political ones)? Do we want every event to be a virtual event? How much are we willing to live in fear?”
Our response to these questions may very well set the course for our future.
Eisenstein goes on to say, “most would agree that a month without social interaction a reasonable sacrifice to save a million lives. But how about to save 100,000 lives? And what if the sacrifice is not for a month but for a year? Five years?”
Is the best measure of humanity’s progress simply death reduction? In a society that not only fears death but worships youth, perhaps the answer is “yes.” But, in many cultures, this is not the case. In Peru, for example, shamans are called in to help the dying to “die well,” not to perform life-saving feats for their own sake. Life is sacred. Death is not considered an ending; rather, it’s seen as a homecoming.
This virus, this gift, offers us the opportunity to reexamine our values. Will we choose love over fear? Relationships over separation? Understanding the sacredness of life allows the fear of death to loosen its grip. It is my hope that this virus will teach us not to fear death but to value life.
“To hold life sacred is not just to live long, it is to live well and right and fully,”
– Charles Eisenstein