Posted by: viewfromtheriva | May 6, 2020

Reflecting on life in the time of a pandemic


Nothing quite prepares us for self-analysis than a near-death experience.

As we recover, still feeling half alive, we realize that somehow every moment we used to take for granted is now really important–the heady perfume of wisteria in bloom; sitting on a rock jetty watching the sun slip into the sea; the sound of soft rain on the roof–life!

Covid 19 has brought many of us as close to a near-death emotional experience as we will ever have.

Like Kubler-Ross wrote decades ago, we are all going through similar stages of our collective new reality–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.

For me, having lived overseas for the past 20 years, Covid 19 has meant a chance to more deeply immerse myself into what’s important and why.

                       

One of the joys of living in a foreign country is being able to experience an entirely different quality of life.  In so doing, it’s impossible not to make comparisons to life in the country you left.

Sadly, I have watched America steadily become more and more dysfunctional.  A country whose citizens are consumed with a different kind of pandemic—schizophrenia.

                                                                                We is you and me

A nation of almost 325,000,000 exhibiting the best and worst of all that we expect from a democracy whose Constitution begins with the words “We the people…”

A democracy that promises all of its citizens that freedom is their most cherished and protected human right.

Now that the US death rate has passed 70,000 and the percentage of those infected who have actually died is greater than China, where it started, the disconnect between reality and political posturing has entered a whole new phase of schizoid delusion.

As a country we have never been so divided.  So viscerally angry at each other.  Death threats against doctors who advise wearing masks?  Presidential tweets cheering for armed mobs to “free” their state?  The new normal isn’t social distancing it’s social intimidation and a quadrupling of anti-anxiety drug prescriptions.

Why so many Americans still believe what they hear and see from their government is no longer the issue.

We’ve gone way beyond anxiety, denial and anger.

Americans with guns are in state capital buildings; we shot and killed a health worker who was trying to tell someone to wear a mask and now, depressed because we are only getting $600 a week in government-issued unemployment checks, we are being told that China has caused all of this misery on purpose.

As I sit here overlooking the sea, almost as beautiful as this photo taken above Makarska, my thoughts are how important it is to let go of all of this.

Let go of our obsession with the superficial; our constant quest for more; our acceptance of racism; of lies; our growing isolation from the rest of the world; our refusal to learn from history; our deep need to find someone or thing to blame; our shocking violence.

 

      We are all alone, together.

What’s really important isn’t some new revelation about why we have lost ourselves.

It’s simply going back to find what Plato said we should do 2,400 years ago:,

“Know thyself”.

Knowing ourselves means accepting what’s good about who and what we are, and why we act and believe the way we do, as well as what isn’t.  And then doing the work to fix what’s bent, broken, missing.

We are all born full of wonder, love, trust, innocence, acceptance, laughter.

We are not born killers, racists, demagogues, consumers, liars, schizophrenics.

All of these diseases, like Covid 19, are caught, taught, learned.

Painful as it may be to confront our own weaknesses and what we have forgotten, if we don’t, we will continue to suffer as a people–not just being forever jealous, miserable, angry, worried, but cannon fodder for controllable diseases and continuing to follow, trust, elect and believe people we know we shouldn’t.

If we don’t, we will continue to be afraid to change, afraid to love, afraid of each other.

Covid 19 is a rare chance to embrace Kubler-Ross’s acceptance without actually getting sick.

A time to listen to our heart, change, learn and love ourselves and others

 

 


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