As of this writing almost 5 million people have Covid-19 and 328,000 people have died worldwide. Even so, countries are beginning to open up. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether or not it’s wise. As for me, I have not hugged my grandson in two and a half months, but I must go to work every day and I am mostly happy to do so. I don my PPE and visit with patients and provide support as I can in a new way. By that I mean that I no longer touch or hug patients. We pray six feet apart. I try to communicate feelings of compassion and empathy with only my eyes that are protected by a plastic shield. I strive to build emotional solidarity while maintaining physical distance. It’s the new world order. Will it be forever? Who knows? Everyone agrees that things will never go back to the way they were but none of us knows what that actually means yet.
But we go on as we must. We want to. We hope that the new normal includes some things that are good, valuable and should have been done a long time ago. It is the good that keeps me going and inspires me to personally do and be better. I realize that all my negative feelings and reactions to some of what is, is only hurting me and those around me who are in my circle of energy. It would be much better to acknowledge the things that disturb and upset me and seek positive ways to respond. Go high when others go low. Give light to the darkness. Raise positive energy. Use whatever phrase you like, but the idea is that in every moment, we can choose what we bring into this world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my choices. Epictetus said, “Don’t talk about your philosophy. Embody it.” Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” The message is the same. Being, rather than talking, may be a more effective path to peace, both individually and collectively. There is no doubt that verbal communication, when done well, can be a source of inspiration. On the other hand, when not done well, it can incite chaos. Either way, it can only carry us so far. Inspiration is a good starting point to bring goodness and light into the world, but action must follow.
While much of the news is almost an unbearable litany of negativity, there is also a well of beauty and positivity every night. My heart is broken wide open, in a good way, when I see images of the health care workers doing what they do every day. The sight of volunteers packaging up and delivering food fills me with gratitude. Watching YouTube videos of the Colt Clark family playing music everyday lightens my burden. These are people who don’t dwell in the mud and the muck of the pandemic. They take the lemons and make lemonade.
These images have prompted me to consider the message of my life. How am I embodying what I believe? In drilling down to what I truly believe and what’s important to me, I have chosen to follow a new path. I do not intend to play the part of an activist in the common sense. That’s not my particular gift, though I bow to those who do have that calling. For me, I believe it will be something simpler, the beginning of which seems to be taking the time to appreciate the simple beauty around me. If you follow my Instagram page, you will not be surprised that I find meaning in taking pictures of the tiniest things on the same two-mile stretch of road. Every time I head out for a walk, I think to myself, “I won’t find anything new to photograph today,” and every time I am wrong. In my new way of being, I shall say, “What beautiful thing will I find to photograph today?” A simple reframing or paradigm shift.
Blaise Pascal said that in difficult times you should carry something beautiful in your mind. Such simple wisdom. When I read this, I closed my mind and was immediately saturated with memories of beautiful things I’ve seen in my life. The grand mountains of Glacier National Park. A silvery, ribbon-like waterfall in Hawaii. A bull Elk bugling in a field under a full moon in West Yellowstone. Sunrises on Penobscot Bay in Maine. My grandson’s smiling face. Swans gliding along Lough Erne in Ireland. My medicine wheel garden. A pair of old hands clasped as they speak renewed vows of love. More recently, the bluebird who sits atop his little house every morning and the bees. Oh, the bees! I am fascinated by their work ethic and harmonious living. I find myself spending a lot of time observing and listening to them collect the nectar from ground ivy and dandelions in my yard. They don’t fuss or fight. They don’t whine about being too busy or having half their source of nectar mowed down. They make do with what they have and continue on in pleasant comradery doing what they are meant to do.
These bees are embodying their philosophy and delivering their simple message of doing the best you can, with what you have, to bring your gift to the world around you. So simple. So beautiful. And unless you count the sound of their buzzing as they work, they haven’t needed to say a word.
As the pandemic carries on doing its thing, we too must go on doing ours. The coronavirus is quite clear on what ‘its thing’ is. Are you as clear about your purpose, your philosophy and your message to the world? Are you following the path you were always meant to follow, or must you, like me, choose a new path in order to embody your philosophy?
I wish you blessings on your journey, wherever it may take you. Be safe, be well and think beautiful thoughts.