I’ve always been someone who looks for deeper meaning — the hidden, obscure message or teaching in life’s seemingly random events. I mine my life. Our collective lives. In that mining, gold is always, eventually, found.
So here I find myself in March 2020, mining for the hidden meaning behind coronavirus.
It’s nothing more than a virus, you may say.
Yes, it is. And maybe, it isn’t.
Here’s what my mining found.
COVID-19 is making us look, really look, at how we consume. As the supply of commodities remains uncertain, I find myself being more mindful about how much toilet paper I’m using, rice I’m cooking, or water I’m wasting. This is a good thing. This is a timely thing. When I started to look at my daily habits through the lens of scarcity, I started to see how wasteful I can be. Me, even me, who considered myself a ‘greenie’ can be wasteful. The thing is, coronavirus or no coronavirus, the world’s resources are scarce. Shouldn’t we always be consuming with this scarcity mindset?
COVID-19 is transforming the way we do business. Less going into the office, more work from home, which means more time with family. Is COVID-19 signalling to us that it’s time to break down the old structure of how we work and live?
I think it’s no mistake that a virus that is forcing humanity to come together as one collective to contain it, comes at a time when humanity is so divisive. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate against gender, race, political preference or religion — it treats us as one. Perhaps COVID-19 is here to remind us to do the same. To show us that we are all equal. Different but always equal.
I am calling my parents more. I have checked in on some of my 60+ year old neighbours. Why did it have to take a pandemic for me to do this? We are wired for love and connection, all of us. We shouldn’t need a global outbreak to get that wire sparking again. This love and connection are who we are.
COVID-19 is generating fear en masse. I hear you. My stomach almost dropped to my toes when I heard the virus was in my country. To mine the mind and look at fearful thoughts requires stillness, patience and compassion — all qualities that have come secondary to our cultural drive for power, money and the latest gadget du jour. I’ve tried to get really still in my fear, knowing that my mind is just one aspect of myself. I also have a body and a soul.
When I got still, this is what all aspects said:
Mind — said get prepared. This is just common sense, right? Here in New Zealand earthquakes loom, my parents are in Australia where bush fires loom. We should all be prepared for emergencies — virus or no virus. This preparedness does not mean 600 rolls of toilet paper. It means enough water and food and supplies for my family to last us a few weeks. Not fear, just plan ole practicality. My mind said yes, yes, of course, we will all wash our hands and stay at home if we are unwell and help stop the spread. Shouldn’t this just be the norm? Not fear, just plan ole hygiene and common courtesy.
Body — said rest and eat healthily. In this world of yang, my body is calling out for yin. And I’m not going to beat coronavirus by stuffing my face with a cheeseburger. The body said vegetables, vitamins, water, movement, sunshine.
Soul — said do what is required in any given moment. My soul is not interested in watching the mind’s movie, playing either a future projection or a past event. The soul is here, right now, writing. This moment, I’m sure, will soon be interrupted with a different moment, a different requirement. Some moments I’m writing, some moments I’m cooking, some moments I’m cuddling my children, some moments I’m buying food for our emergency kit, some moments I’m dancing, some moments I’m angry, some moments I’m joyous. The moments are the fabric of life. Not the projected fear. Not the hanging on of the past. Life is in the moment. Soul is not scared of coronavirus. Soul is living — in the moment living.
So, perhaps it’s time to hit pause on the news media — just for a little bit — and enjoy a stillness interlude. Observe the mind, body and soul.
In my observation, I can see that the mind is a valuable tool — some thoughts are helpful. We can sift out those helpful thoughts (get prepared, stay healthy, wash hands, help stop the spread, buy locally, follow health authority guidelines) and we can act on them. But there are other tools in our mining tool kit.
These tools — our bodies and our souls — are the tools that ultimately unearth the gold.
In my mining of coronavirus, I did unearth some golden nuggets. These nuggets have got me pondering. Maybe COVID-19 is a wake-up call — asking us, begging us, forcing us to look at our consumption, our connection to earth and its finite resources, our systems of work, our internalized racism, our connection to each other, our spirituality. It’s calling our souls to rise up, break through the fearful thoughts and be the driver of our lives.
Let’s not let this unprecedented opportunity pass us by. The imminent world lockdown is forcing us to slow down. Isolation will give us more time. Imagine if we all used that time (at least some of it — when the kids are in bed) to meditate, self-inquire, question our beliefs, question everything, read, listen to podcasts, write, paint, let the sun’s golden rays tickle our nose, call our loved ones, look inwards. We can stay grounded in the real world and help flatten the curve while still aspiring to be our highest self.
It’s an uncertain time for the world in so many ways. It’s a hard time. But we haven’t totally hit the iceberg yet. We can be the people that turn the Titanic around, sail home and re-build a post-coronavirus world with more compassion and awareness.
Lara Charles is an Australian writer and mama living in Aotearoa, New Zealand, with her husband and four children. Lara writes about the inner journey told through the lens of her own experience as a soul-searching, honest, sometimes funny, ordinary woman and mother. Her work has been featured on New Zealand’s most prominent media platform, Stuff, as well as spiritual platforms such as Tiny Buddha and Elephant Journal.
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