Updated: Nov 19
"If you can't change it, change your attitude" - Maya Angelou
“Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.” - Pablo Neruda
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” - Joseph Campbell
It is 1:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon in April and a nearby park is scattered with men, women and children. All out to escape the monotony of home isolation, despite warnings and beseechment issued by government leaders and the majority. The elderly, the overweight and the so called couch potato have decided to put foot to pavement and receive their daily fair share of vitamin D and oxygen.
I myself am enjoying the fruits of the outdoors on such a beautiful and sunny spring day as I advance to an open field to exercise. I take a deep breath – in through my nose and glance around… As the adjoining smell of fresh cut grass and the sea flood my senses, I think for a second about my drive over to the park and the difference in the ride. So many people smack in the middle of a spring weekday, exercising, walking the streets, getting outside and inhaling the refreshing air of the subsisting spring. For a second I find delight in the playful laughs of children in the distance and the familiar ping of a tennis ball conjugating the barrel of an aluminum baseball bat. REFRESHING I think.
The threats and difficulties of the Covid-19 virus have shaken the world and the great state of New York to the core. Never before have we experienced a government shutdown of business, community and individual liberty to this magnitude. This horrifying, unfamiliar, and potentially fatal ailment has left the majority in a frenzied stupor. What do we do and where do we go? How will this virus affect those that are precious to us? What can we do? How long will this last? Will we find a cure or a remedy? Do I still have my job or will I ever get it back? How will I pay my bills and support my family? These are the questions that keep so many of us up at night as we play them over and over again in our minds.
It is said that tough times make tough people yet the soft, pillowy existence that has been provided for us with the expenditure of blood and the heroes of wars have seemed to have left us naked. What have we forgotten? What have we taken for granted? What is important? As devastating and unwanted as catastrophe is, it can and always has brought about some good along with it.
Great tragedy’s such as this which we are currently facing, force people to remember what is important and to be grateful for what they have. As I stood and glimpsed out over the park today I thought to myself… If nothing else this troublesome time has forced people to get off their butts and to get outside, to get moving! It should serve as a stiff jab to the nose of a reminder that we ought to start taking care of ourselves better and start paying more attention to the predicament of our well – being.
My observations at least proved temporarily, that in a time where so many have lost sight of their health and become overweight, there are some who are beginning to make a bit of good out of the bad. Others alike have reemerged in their faith, finding hope in prayer and in service. Still and all, there are those that have been struck with a well needed wake up call, to acquire more value or to learn new skills, to control what can be controlled and to not fret upon what cannot.
It has become rudimentary in the first world that we focus so much on the things that are out of our control. Worrying about weather, fate and events that may never come, we forget to spend our energy and time on what we do have control over. We can do everything in our power to stay and be as healthy as possible. Not only will this give us our best chance to defeat disease and illness but it will also enable us to live our best lives. We can make time to become more valuable in knowing that value is the best form of job security.
When one becomes the most valuable person in the room, they give themselves the best chance to provide and to earn for their family. By living each day as if it is our last and by finding peace with a spiritual nature we can find happiness in the present moment. By finding God and our neighbor we can be at peace with what may come of unpredictability. By doing what we know we should do and by honestly doing the best that we can at whatever it is that we do, with whatever we have, we can be content with what is and what will be.
This life that we live is fragile and it doesn’t last forever. Often times it can take fear, loss, pain or struggle to truly appreciate the good when it is good. Have you held your spouse’s hand lately? When was the last time that you kissed your kid and told them that you love them? What better time than now? We have felt as if we are indestructible yet times like these remind us that we are not! That nothing is certain! In past times it was wars, famine and genocide that kept us grounded and brought us back to what is important… Presently it is this plight.
It is situations like this that will remind many of us that it is time to step it up a notch and begin attacking our true potential. That we ought to stop making excuses and start facing that person in the mirror! That we should be nicer to people and not sweat the small stuff. That we should begin facing what we ought to face and stop pointing fingers!
There is a saying that there are no atheists in the foxholes and as we glance back at biblical reference we see it written that disease, famine, natural disasters and floods came and struck the past to start anew, bringing people back to sensibility and awakening the multitudes to start looking up. Could it be that covid-19 is meant to bring us back to God and back to who we ought to be?
I feel it in the air and I see it on the faces of the people who walk the park and upon the streets. This calamity has taken them back at least temporarily to what is important and to what is meaningful. Parents walk with children and husband walks with wife. All honoring a considerable distance, a smile and a wave is given to one who passes by.
As the wind dies and the sun brightens, the leaves of heavens trees have become still. In the sudden quite calm of the day I hear the silent sound of a voice and a slight smile unwillingly changes the reflection of my grimace… Or is it just a thought that perhaps this great catastrophe may bring these people in the distance back to who they know they could be and should be?
I remember stories of the great giants of our religion’s past who retreated into the isolation of the desert before their great surge forward. Could this be our chance to get that well needed running start toward tomorrow? My focus slowly shifts to a cloud that is forming on the horizon. As the wind twirls the cotton appearing mass, it begins to take shape of a hand…
I squint to see clearer, only to notice a great big, white finger pointed right in my direction. In this moment I wholeheartedly understand the message and yes it is true… That I myself ought to use this time of unwanted but well needed isolation to connect to what I have neglected and what I have taken for granted. To reflect and to focus. To silently, tactfully and creatively make myself stronger, wiser and better… NOW THAT IS REFRESHING!