What’s the Gift Hidden in the Coronavirus?

I was recently tested for the Covid-19 virus and as I self-isolate in my apartment with my cat, I’ve had an abundance of time to consider how I want to respond to the events of the world and manage my anxiety regarding my test results. I was out of the country when this virus hit— on a cruise ship—so I imagine my chances of having it are pretty good. I’m not overly concerned about my own health—while I am over 60, I’m in reasonably good health and currently my symptoms are mild, but unlike any flu or cold I’ve had before. My concern is more for others—I work with people in their 80’s and people with disabilities and compromised immune systems. Have I unknowingly passed the virus on to them? Time will tell.

What I have noticed is an abundance of kindness, caring, love, and support—from multiple sources—family, friends, neighbours, and social media groups in Toronto that are creating support for everyone affected by this virus. I’ve had many phone calls, emails, and texts inquiring if I need anything. One friend went so far as to offer to pick up food from our favourite Indian restaurant and she and I could have a picnic—she in my hallway outside my front door and I in my foyer. We laughed at the thought, but our main focus was our favourite restaurant, how are they coping—paying their rent, bills, staff?

What can you do for others?

There’s an online group that I’ve joined that is marshaling resources—retired nurses, doctors, caregivers volunteering to care for people whose caregivers are sick. People willing to shop, pick up medication, hunt down elusive rolls of toilet paper, bring books, music or videos to those who are feeling cooped up and anxious. People are offering free yoga and meditation sessions online, one friend of mine organized a weekend dance party and we all danced together in our own homes, connected by our joy and love of music. The Met is offering free operas and museums all over the world are offering free virtual tours. Teachers are creating online classes to keep the young children occupied and provide some respite for parents.

Small independent grocery stores are donating food rather than throwing it away, private landlords are waiving rents for the month of April, and dog walkers are offering to assist people who are too ill to walk their dogs.

I move myself deeply with this growing outpouring of love and generosity in my community—and I am sure I am not alone—I have spoken with friends and family in many areas of North America and their experiences have been similar—people are rising to the occasion, being kinder, more helpful and more conscious of others. People are less busy, less focused on themselves, and spending more time reaching out and focusing on what is dear to them, rather than the trivialities of daily life.

What you can do for yourself.

What I find most helpful is maintaining my routine. I meditate in the morning, and by spending time in heart and spacious consciousness I expand myself. I relax and release any tension I am holding. I limit my exposure to the news. I’m exercising at home, dancing and listening to my favourite music.  I’m using Zoom to connect with my loved ones to abate my loneliness and create a sense of community and connection. And when I notice my thinking slide into anxiety and my body contracting in response, I microdose and take myself to awe, to beauty, and to heart and spacious consciousness. Like all of you, I am facing the unknown. And I want to stand firmly on my feet and in my heart and hold on to what I know to be true—I am loved, I love, and in this moment right now I am safe.

Perhaps, ultimately, this is the gift, the silver lining of this virus. Perhaps we will all take stock of how we live—our hoarding, selfish, each man for himself mentality and transform how we live. Perhaps, as each of us finds ourselves changed in some way by this virus, we will respond compassionately and lovingly. Perhaps our response will cause a ripple effect that will cover the earth, like a giant waterfall of kindness and love, healing the cracks and filling the holes of poverty, racism, sexism, ageism, and all the other “ism’s” that we use to separate ourselves from each other. Perhaps we will see each other in the same boat and share our supplies rather than eat each other. I hope so, and from my experience, this is happening in my life and in the lives of others in Toronto. I hope it’s happening where you are, and you are finding gifts as we ride this wave of uncertainty together.





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