In every life, there are moments that shape you and form who you are still to become. My cousin died very suddenly over 15 years ago. It is the most significant single event to ever change my life. But what I remember most about that time was the feeling I had the days, weeks, and months afterward. That feeling when you are walking through the world wondering how on earth life can go on. How are people just driving their cars and getting groceries? Don’t they know what has happened? Don’t they know there has been a tragedy? Can’t they see it in the look on my face? Is everyone hypnotized but me? Am I the only one awake? It feels like walking in thick fog, except only you can see it.  The world appears fuzzy, no one understands you and all you can think is: I am alone.

This idea of ‘we’re all in this together’ has really been bothering me lately. It’s on commercials and the news and we toss it around like we really believe it. And I did believe it. In March. I actually could feel it. This indescribable sense of fear but mixed with calm. So much unknown and yet comfort at the same time. What was that? Why can’t I name it or put my finger on it? And why doesn’t it feel like that anymore? Where did it go? And then it hit me.

When we felt ‘all in this together’, it was because we were all experiencing one of the greatest life-altering events at the exact same time. Covid touches every single person on the planet. Everyone knows about it and everyone has, in one way or another, been affected by it.  This wasn’t something happening in another country far away. This moment was a completely shared experience. You could go for a walk outside and look into a stranger’s eyes and just know that you were both going through the same thing together. You didn’t even need to speak. You could go to the grocery store and know everyone felt unsure and afraid. We smiled more as a gesture of understanding and empathy for one another, even if we did it by leaving physical space between us.  I remember seeing a neighbour I had never spoken a word to before and just asked “are you ok?” This ‘thing’ is called connection and the feeling that comes with it is; I am not alone. We were living in grief but for the first time, we knew that everyone was going through their version of the exact same thing. We understood one another.

I’m sad to say it, but I don’t feel that anymore. That feeling has left and I want to know where it went and how to get it back. We had it and we let it slip away. How did we go from feeling so united to so unbelievably divided in such a short amount of time? Now we are judging and assuming and shaming and blaming. We are pointing fingers every chance we have. We are lashing out and turning on one another. We are colluding with the people who agree with our beliefs on everything and anything; politics, masks, conspiracy theories, injustice, schools, climate change. The list feels endless.

I know there are issues upon issues we are navigating right now. But we have grown so much in our fear, anger, and frustration that we can’t even see or think clearly. We are running around trying to convince everyone I am right, and you are wrong. And we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we should be spending our time trying to change someone else’s beliefs, or the news channel they watch, or the vote they will cast. Egos everywhere are screaming ‘I know best!’ We are telling others what they should or shouldn’t believe and what to think. But doesn’t that sound like a dictator? Dictating what other people should think or do. And do we agree that dictators are part of the problem? We have been pointing our finger outward instead of pointing it in the mirror. The answers come from looking inward and healing our own suffering. By questioning our own thoughts and beliefs. When we quiet our egos, our minds become clear. And clear minds are what make good decisions. Clear minds can move forward together and make real change.

We are a planet in pain and how we begin to heal and how we can work to get that feeling back, is by starting with ourselves. One person at a time, questioning our thinking, opening, and clearing our minds will lead us in the right direction. After all, all we can truly control is ourselves and how we react to life as it unfolds. There are moments when we can feel so incredibly alone, like in the midst of grief. But know that it is possible to feel so connected to everyone on earth. It’s possible because we sat witness to it, if only for a moment.

It’s a new week ahead. Make it count.