For every single one of us, life has recently thrown a major coronavirus curve. None of us expected to face such a strangely distracting (if not downright heartbreaking) spring of 2020.
Take me, for instance. When I woke on the first day of this year determined to shake things up in my personal and professional life, I certainly didn’t envision this kind of challenge. You might ask, how can I maintain my optimistic, inspired outlook while the pandemic smashes our norms and squeezes our lives?
You see, since I went ALL IN on my intention on January 1, no threat can seriously derail me. If that seems an arrogant or ignorant thing to say, consider this: I wanted to contact and explore parts of me that have long been hidden, and now COVID-19 has given me the time and space to do exactly that!
It adds up to a perfect storm, opening amazing new opportunities for me every day.
I do, after all, have the capacity to choose my response to unexpected circumstances in life.
Yet I admit that, certainly, many people are not having a great time right now. Their income has vanished, they have lost health insurance, or maybe one or more of their friends or relatives has succumbed to the virus. Obviously these times are scary and difficult for many.
And on top of that, one of the hardest things about social distancing is the loneliness that it can produce. We are used to lots of hugs, handshakes, and close moments with friends. Now we have to do without those comforts.
"Stronger together" while keeping separate?
While listening to music during a workout, a Winn-Dixie ad came over the radio. I don't know if I've ever been blown away by an ad for a grocery store, but this really made an impression on me. You can watch the ad below.
This ad is so comforting: “… winning isn’t just about what happens at the end. It’s how we help each other along the way.” Isn’t that so true? We can find ways to be supportive of one another at a 6-foot distance; we can put compassion to work in order to overcome despair.
We're all in the same boat...or are we?
Have you ever heard the saying "we're all in the same boat?" It can be so comforting to be reminded that even when we feel alone others are working toward common goals, and we can help each other to reach them. Well, check out this poem by columnist and author Damian Barr which has been making the viral rounds on Facebook:
I heard that we are in the same boat.
But it's not that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine in optimal: a moment of reflection, or reconnection.
Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others, it is facing loneliness.
For some, peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their "home office".
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.
Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks.
Others to escape.
Others criticize the government for the lines.
Some have experienced the near-death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during 2020. Others say the worse is yet to come. So, friends, we are not in the same boat.
We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different. And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.
It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.
See beyond the political party, beyond biases, beyond the nose on your face. Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other.
Don't be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him. We are on different ships looking to survive.
Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.
We absolutely are not in the same boat as we row against the current of this pandemic. Compassion is key!
But when it comes to living and growing through all the traumas and transformations of human existence, we actually are all in one boat – the ark that transports us from birth to the next life. We all have to grow, learn, love. Do you agree?
So please know – I want to support you! I want to help you open to new possibilities, to see the chance for growth and optimism in even the most difficult challenge.