On March 9th I celebrated my birthday. My celebration was a heartfelt appreciation for my age of 75…. sincere gratitude for my health, my work, my friends, my loved ones, and my life experiences. This was also the date that Covid-19 was declared a disaster. I had been feeling some uneasiness in my belly since it’s outbreak and had been making preparations for possibilities that we might be soon dealing with the same thing here. My friends thought I was being a bit of an alarmist.
I still was not prepared for the speed with which our country appeared to take its place as being one of the epicenters of the pandemic. I also was not prepared to hear that I’m smack in the middle of the demographic considered the most vulnerable to this very contagious virus.
It seems that fear produces two extremes, denial and panic. Prevention and preparation lie in the middle.
I decided to “put the oxygen mask on myself” to prepare to be able to help others put theirs on, rescheduled my patients for two weeks, and put myself into self-quarantine.
Now my office is closed along with all other medical offices that don’t treat emergency and life-threatening situations. Other than the financial stresses most of us are feeling, staying home is not so bad. I’m cleaning clutter- attic, closets, drawers! I’m learning to do some real vegetable and herb gardening. I’m doing the self-care that I’m always telling my patients to do but not always taking the time to practice myself. I’m eating a better diet, walking in the sunshine and fresh air every day, going back to my yoga, qi gong and meditation practices, and taking a lot of supplements not only to support my immune system, but to also address some underlying health conditions, and for my general health and longevity. I’m sleeping more (taking some naps even), staying in touch with my family and community, waving and smiling at people I don’t know, and feeling gratitude for so many people and things I have been taking for granted. When I feel fear trying to well up inside myself, I go into my garden where the birds are always singing.
The Chinese have one character that means both crisis and opportunity. Which meaning do we choose? Do we allow this crisis to shrink our lives, or do we develop new creativity and skills to meet the challenges before us?
If we choose to focus on the opportunity side of the meaning, we have many role models, many people we probably know who have survived their own life-altering events and developed some amazing resilience. I work quite a bit with our disabled veterans. They are the first ones who come to mind. These men and women have been injured on the front lines and are still dealing with their physical wounds as well as PTSD. Yet, they continue their lives with amazing grace. We can learn a lot from them. We also have our first-responder heroes who are taking care of others in the face of the unknown. We can learn compassion and courage from them. These people are the warriors of our culture, and they have much to teach us all.
We can also pay attention to some ancient prophecies of our indigenous cultures around the world. Their teachers speak of this time as being one of paradigm change. They say humanity is moving from an age of darkness into an age of Light. An old paradigm of individualism, competition, and the mind is dying. A new one of community, compassion, and the heart is emerging. But we as humans must be active participants in creating this new paradigm through our actions, thoughts, and visualizations. I am eager to see what opportunities emerge from this crisis.