“Look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence. The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendour of beauty. For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day! Such is the Salutation to the Dawn.” - By Kalidasa 4th century Sanskrit scholar and poet
Who would have thought so much could change in the world within a few months? Back then we were hugging each other and believing that nothing could stop the AFL season, ANZAC Day or Easter.
This new world has been fraught with challenges but for some it has been a time for reading, baking and eating more!!! Some have dusted off the jigsaw puzzles or started crocheting again.
I first saw this pandemic as an equalizer because no one was excluded. Even former world wars have not affected all countries at the same time. Yet it hasn’t been the same experience for everyone. For the poor and disenfranchised, their suffering has been exacerbated.
Denied physical contact with the outside world we have probably never felt more connected to those on the other side of the world. It has alerted us to the fact that this is a world problem and it will take a united effort to find global solutions.
Those who have survived many events in history wonder if we are being taught an existential lesson. Is there something we all need to learn from this pandemic? Have we become too complacent, too dependent on our materialistic lifestyle? Is it time we changed our values and expectations?
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM PAST EVENTS?
The Spanish Flu which was rampant from 1918 – 1920 infected half a billion people. In the 1950’s and 60’s many of us remember images of children in leg calipers and iron lungs, struck down with polio. There were also survivors of the plague even though it decimated more of the population than any other single event in history.
The important thing about past pandemics and crises is what did we learn from them?
Currently we have been told to keep an eye on the elderly as their health is fragile. Despite their vulnerability they are resilient, having survived some of these past events in history. They have already learned to accept change, adapt, let go and have faith that there will soon be a solution.
Spare a thought for the younger generation who have grown up in an affluent society, accustomed to instant gratification. They are already asking ‘how long do we have to put up with this?’ Hopefully it will be these brilliant young minds who will come up with the solutions for our future.
EMBRACING DUALITIES OF TANTRA
While practising tantric yoga I learned to embrace dualities such as pain/pleasure, suffering/joy, sickness/health, darkness/light. For it is only by experiencing adversity that we appreciate compassion. In the same way we can only understand happiness by first knowing sadness. Similarly, we can only learn to live by first confronting death. Facing the worst of your fears helps you to find peace.
At the moment most of us are living with the fear of illness or death but we are learning to truly appreciate life by:
reaching out to others in need
getting to know our neighbours
spreading rainbows as a sign of hope
treasuring one walk a day
spending more time with the kids
appreciating the power of a hug
discovering and enjoying nature
The skies have never looked cleaner, the roads are free of traffic. As the world has slowed down, we have time to think and be creative.
Perhaps self-isolation will give us a greater appreciation of caring about other people. Not just our loved ones but complete strangers all over the world. Times of crisis often bring out the best in people and we are seeing wonderful examples of community spirit.
Cutting back on luxuries may give us a greater appreciation of how much we have and sharing what we no longer need. Our renewed interest in nature may make us determined to take care of our environment.
To quote from my book, Chasing Marigolds “…I have learned that it is not enough to simply exist. I also need to embrace every joyous and precious moment of life, with all its uncertainties and to cherish the wonderful people who make it possible. Having faced death without fear, I can now enjoy my life wholeheartedly, making every day a moment of bliss.
Having led an interesting life shared with wonderful loving people, I felt truly blessed. Faced with challenging events along my life path I have gained a plethora of knowledge and wisdom. There was little else I wanted or needed from life.”
What better opportunity has there been to live in the present? As you declutter your house and garden, dedicate some time to looking within. You may discover you are more resilient, stronger, courageous and generous than you thought.