Although distance separates us, you are my extended family. I have always thought of you that way. There is only one human family and we are it. There is only one world and it is (temporarily) ours to live upon, learn from, and share in its resources.
We are currently experiencing a worldwide “moment”. A moment is an experience that everyone recognizes as significant and potentially life altering. It is historic in the sense that later on, you will remember things like where you were when first presented with this new experience. Other details that may seem insignificant to you now will be surprisingly memorable, even years from now. Moments are located on timelines and follow storied paths that can seem as surreal as bad movie scripts. We all contribute to the unfolding of these stories and the mysterious paths they take. We name these moments, design and shape them, and even secretly affect how they play out.
You may be saying to yourself, “I did not create this current mess. It was the furthest thing from my mind until it dropped into my lap.” And you would be right. But our collective imagination is fascinated by human interest stories, especially those we have not experienced in recent times. scenarios. We followed its twists and turns until we fell under its spell and became a co-participant in the life-drama. A train stopped at our station and we boarded the train without noticing that it was not our train (of thought) to follow. Even so, we boarded that train and are now passengers along for the ride.
This moment will continue as long as we remain fascinated by this novel virus. Health professionals insist that it is an ominous villain, impossible to control or predict. For the moment, all of our available attention and emotion is focused upon it. Eventually, after we have discovered as much as we can about it, we will begin to lose interest in it, and our minds will look elsewhere for stimulation. Thoughts, like things, are only valuable while we are invested in a desired outcome. When the thoughts produced by our minds tire of this cinematic reality (thoughts are very fickle!) they will carry us down a different path and another reality. The world we see and move around in will rearrange itself to suit our next interests. This moment will slide out from under us and ease onto a page of history. Experience follows thought, not the other way around. It is easy to forget this because our inner senses quickly fabricate a world that matches what we believe.
In the meantime, here we all are, sailing on the same earthship, breathing the same air, and washing our hands (more frequently) in the same water. Among other things, this novel virus is reminding us that our human bodies are vulnerable, our minds easily frightened. Our superficially ordered society is fragile and quickly disturbed by even a perceived lack of resources. The virus, our enemy-teacher, is also showing us that our consumer-driven economies are no match against things more powerful. While world economies shrink and shrivel, the virus hops from host to host, hitching a ride to a city near you.
Like you, I laugh at the endless stream of comic memes that appear in my inbox and smile in appreciation at sayings that prompt me to remember that ‘we are all in this together’, but are we? Do we think and act in ways that benefit each other? If necessity prevails will we share our resources with strangers as well as friends? As we self-isolate can we also self-navigate with our heart instead of our fear? Public learning institutions may be closed, but if we look around, we will see that earth-school is open and personal life experience is the best teacher of all
This virus-teacher will not stay long. We will soon discover how to contain and prevent its return. We will emerge from our homes and return to our businesses, schools, and life-projects. Some of us may lose loved ones or friends. Over time a new normal will prevail and life will go on, because that is what life does, it continues. This present moment will have passed, and we will be lost in new thoughts. And while I heartily believe the sooner this happens the better, I also believe this is not a temporary obstacle, but a chapter out of a book as old as time.