I keep getting the feeling, as these quiet days melt into weeks, that this coronavirus is something of a dictator. It may only be a temporary reign, but the rigid control over our lives is no less real; and unlike Hitler, it’s making good on its boasts of conquering the world. It slipped in so silently, shaping how we live and where we work. Telling us who we can see and who we can’t. Forcing us to slow down, and to be still in a world that has grown addicted to constant movement. You must not touch. You will not socialize. Thou shalt not cough. Do not breathe.
In typical dictator fashion, it never asked our permission; it never reached out to see whether or not these rules were okay with us. Instead, it told us very clearly how things were going to be. And if you don’t like it? Too bad. As with any other fascist force, breaking the rules could cost you your life. Fear me, it commands, as the death toll quickly rises.
Much the Same
I’m well aware of how blessed I am–safe in my comfortable home, with all of my needs met. My husband’s job is considered essential, my freezers are stocked with food, and we’re all in good health. My life here hasn’t really changed all that much except for the fact that Taylor is now working from our basement. As a family of contented hermits (minus the one answering phones downstairs), we aren’t feeling the pain of a forced isolation like some others are. Leaving the house to grocery shop once every week (or two) is all we really care to do anyway.
But despite the relative “normalcy,” nothing is actually normal, and my first thought as I slowly drift up to wakefulness each morning is consistently the same: What happened in our world as I peacefully slept? Is anyone I know and love sick? Has anyone I know and love died? And I wonder if this is what it feels like to be at war, battling an enemy who possesses far more effective weapons than we do.
So Very, Very Tiny
Watching the behaviors of those around me, I figure it must be hard for some to believe how easily the “great and mighty” human race has been so ruthlessly brought to its knees. How our lives and livelihoods have been so disrupted (so abruptly) by something so very, very tiny and seemingly insignificant.
I watch (and try hard not to judge) this steadfast denial in the actions of my neighbors who refuse to stay home and protect the more vulnerable. I heard it in the words of our president as he boasted that the churches would be filled by Easter, even in the face of such contrary evidence. What this denial is, I haven’t yet been able to figure out. Is it purely selfishness? Ignorance? A feeling of invincibility? Arrogance? Fear?
Will this haughty refusal to respect “the rules” be followed by shock as they come to the realization that all of our power, money, pride, and prestige amounts to nothing when it comes to controlling this viral dictator? It’s going to do what it’s going to do regardless of whether we’re a prince or a pauper. Personally, I think it’s a critically humbling experience for us all, and it’s had my brain (and heart) processing data for weeks now. I’m over here watching the whole thing unfold in a constant state of awe. Where will it go? What will it do? To whom?
And most importantly–why?
There are just so many thoughts surfacing (too many to be crammed into a single blog post), and so many of them are still unformed. Right now they’re simply shadows of realizations that are sure to bloom in the coming weeks of looming quarantine. But they’re not all so hazy; in fact, some of them are blindingly bright. And blatantly obvious. Those immediate realizations have already sparked changes and adjustments to my daily life.
Strangely, this tyrant is teaching me how to be better, less wasteful, and how to further simplify an already simple life. It’s showing me through violent means how to tread more lightly on this beautiful (and mighty) planet of ours. It reminds me that these bodies aren’t invincible and to treat them with love if they are to serve us well. It’s guiding me towards an ever-deepening respect for Mother Nature and her cleansing ways.
And I wonder if maybe that’s the silver lining to despots; they show us very clearly who we don’t want to be and where we don’t want to go. Through their ruthlessness, they inadvertently point the way to a better and a kinder way of living. A more peaceful, loving, and inclusive existence. As always, the choice is ours; we can learn from them, or we can not.
And while I know things like this have unfolded before, this time is different because the world is different. Yes, plagues have been wreaking havoc since probably the beginning of time, and disasters are consistently striking somewhere in the world. Sadly, wars are still constantly erupting and it seems unlikely that any of these things will ever change. But unlike 9/11, which was happening to “us” while “they” looked on, this time it’s all of us–all of humanity–fighting, dying, and recovering together.
And what makes this crisis different is that we know it. We now possess the awareness and easy communication to connect us one to another, from across the globe. We can share information, give and receive advice, sound a warning, and learn from the missteps of others–instantly. This crisis has clearly illuminated how intricately we’re all connected.
While I have yet to determine if some of my observations fall into the realm of blessing or curse, this growing awareness of our connection feels like a good thing. Mostly because it has enormous potential. If we allow it, it can strip away the cultural, economical, religious, and racial differences and show us that no matter where or to whom we were born, we are fundamentally the same. In a world where barriers–race, gender, parties–have become a way of life, we see now that they’re no more than illusion. Underneath the superficial labels, one is just as vulnerable or as powerful as the next. Most especially when death comes knocking.
And one life affects another and then another and still another. Until a woman in Connecticut creates ripples felt in Australia who then creates a ripple felt in Peru. In the face of “all of us” against an invisible viral “them,” I see that our best defense is to unite and optimize that fundamental connection. To share our resources and our knowledge. To offer our support and to freely give of what we have: our compassion, our empathy, our understanding, and our love. Always, always our love.
In the Face Of
I read a post yesterday where someone was talking about the hatred that they’ve seen stirred up by this pandemic. I’m sad about that, but fortunately for me, that’s not what I’m seeing the most of. Surprisingly, what I’m seeing is a lot of positivity, even in the face of fear. I’m seeing renewed faith, even in the shock of economic loss.
I watch as more and more people are venturing out and immersing themselves in the healing energies of nature. Parents spending more time with their kids. I smile at stripped supermarket shelves and think not of hoarding, but of the fact that for the first time in maybe a long time, people are cooking together. And eating together. Maybe even laughing together.
I marvel at the imagination and creativity that has been unleashed when given the opportunity. I see people reaching for hobbies and for books, for each other and for God.
Zumba & Laughter
Of course I see the anxiety and the worry, too. But as so often happens in the face of great tragedy, humans have an incredible ability to rally. I would actually say that it’s one of our most admirable traits. How some of us, despite our own pain, choose to come to the support of others with encouraging words and deeds. I remember watching as 9/11 unfolded and realizing how very little faith I had in mankind. I had to actually witness the endless depths of human goodness to believe it even existed. Even in the aftermath of such blatant hatred, the selfless acts renewed my belief in the human race. And now, in the presence of this new terrorist, I’m seeing more of the same.
I see quarantined neighbors singing together, rooftop Zumba classes, and lockdown dance parties. I see celebrities, financially supporting fans in desperate need. The explosion of clapping hands brings tears to my eyes as we acknowledge and honor the tireless efforts of our healthcare workers. I watch the late night hosts as they continue to spread the healing energy of laughter from their living rooms. I’m humbled as countless retired doctors and nurses sign on to help save lives in a crisis that could take theirs.
It’s everywhere, in big and small ways, this beautiful generosity of spirit. This love that only yesterday we might not have known we had. But thanks to the work of a tyrant, we’ve been forced to find it and unleash it–this glorious goodness that is our one and true essence.
Keep the Lessons
We don’t know where this will go for us and who it might take from our lives. On a personal level, COVID-19 could change our stories forever, and on a much larger collective level we realize we are now a part of history. And as new reports come out with the solemn prediction that the United States might perhaps be the hardest hit, I understand the fear that might swell in hearts across the country. But I also understand that this is a time when some of us will chose to shine–brilliantly. And show us all how this human thing can and should be done.
Who will come to our aid as the peak hits and tries to steal from us those we love? Will it be the ones we’ve alienated, judged, and scoffed at? Are the “insignificant” jobs and workers the ones that will keep us fed and functioning and afloat? Will petty feuds be temporarily dismissed as we fight to keep one another alive? Will we learn? Not only learn, but keep the lessons and reshape our lives around them?
I know this is asking a lot. And there are many (maybe even most) people who are simply intent on making it through this. This is no “opportunity” to them, but a matter of survival. Get through it and get back to living. As it was. And as has been clearly evidenced by the hoarding of products, the human instinct for self-preservation at all costs is still strong. Predominant, even. (And for the record, I could really use some toilet paper, thanks.) But even if this doesn’t spark a global shift, I’m seeing a strong individual one, and maybe right now, for where we are in our evolution, that has to be enough.
Our Petri Dish
Recently Jordan shared an Instagram post where she compared the world to a Petri dish. Add a drop of that nifty blue dye and all of a sudden the invisible–maybe even the seemingly nonexistent–become visible. Coronavirus is that blue dye. And after adding a drop to this Petri dish world of ours, the invisible human connections became glaringly obvious. This virus strips away the chosen differences, revealing and reminding us that we are all humans.
But here’s the thing I think we need to remember: That dye didn’t create anything new. All it did was illuminate what was already there.
Because we’re not only connected now, during this health crisis, but always. We’re all in this living thing together–all fighting to survive, to thrive, and to find some peace and happiness. Maybe even some love. And in the moments when we are able to see and feel this, it cracks open our hearts in an unstoppable way. Compassion flows freely from those who can give to those who are in need. We possess this crazy beautiful potential to shine so brightly and so selflessly it can sometimes take my breath away; my prayer would be that there will come a day when we can do it freely, without the cruel promptings of a dictator. That is my hope, and no matter how unlikely it seems, this ridiculously idealistic girl is going to cling to it.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep shining your light. Always. Peace & much love ~ Melinda
- 1 can butternut squash (15 ounce can)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- ½ red pepper (diced)
- 1 medium zucchini (diced)
- 3 celery stalks (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup sunflower seeds
- ¾ cup almonds (raw)
- ½ cup oat flour
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
- 6 teaspoons water
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or dash of stevia)
Preheat oven to 350°
1. Saute the onion and pepper in a small amount of oil or water until tender.
2. Steam the broccoli, celery, and zucchini until tender, 8-10 minutes.
3. Add the butternut squash, cooked vegetables, coconut flour, herbs, and salt to a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside until crust is prepared.
1. Add all of the crust ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir until well-combined. Reserve 3 tablespoons.
2. Using wet fingers, press the rest of the crust into a parchment-lined pie plate.
3. Scoop the butternut filling into the pie crust and sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of reserved crust over the top.
4. Bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly before slicing.