Over the past few weeks as the news of COVID-19 becomes more dire and the measures for our safety more severe, I have found myself reflecting on the notion that “we’re all in this together” has never felt more true. In the last 100 years, nothing has affected the entire world so devastatingly and completely. And experts are telling us that the worst is yet to come.

This situation has given me a lot of time to think.  Some of my thoughts spiral toward what we are personally losing:

  • Will my daughter get to experience ANY of the rites of passage the end of her high school senior year should bring?
  • How can we afford to get through this if we are forced to live on less?
  • Will we have enough toilet paper? (The struggle is real down to the last three rolls…)

But I am also finding myself gravitating toward an odd sense of serenity and I’m not sure why. My world is teetering. OUR world has been upended…and it’s impossible to see the horizon right now.

So — if a profound impact on all our lives is inevitable — why the calm amidst the chaos? I guess it is that global “we’re all in this together” feeling. And I can’t help but think that because of that, some good MUST come out of this eventually. Right?

In the Indian practice of Hinduism, three gods are believed to be responsible for the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe. As the third god in this triumvirate, Shiva’s role is to destroy the evil in the world to pave a way for the good. Seems fairly apropos about now. Yet even now when there are still so many unknowns, we have the opportunity to create that path of goodness. We can continue to…  

Really connect with our families — play board games, have deep conversations and put devices down.

Truly engage and listen empathically — stop multi-tasking and be present when you are talking to someone.

Be honest — this isn’t always easy, especially if you are feeling anxiety or fear in a work environment. But show up and be authentic. You are not alone.

Slow down and breathe deeply — there is no place to be right now…this one should be easy.

Take up something that helps build internal clarity and awareness — for my part, I’m taking online yoga classes and committing to daily meditation.

Have regular conversations — virtually, or walking six feet apart – with our friends. Schedule online happy hours with people you haven’t seen in awhile. Who said you can’t have a virtual book group?

Show kindness to strangers — we are all feeling isolated and disconnected, so when you do have to go out, smile. (And please don’t be hostile if they accidentally sneeze in public. It could be allergies.)

Help others in both small and meaningful ways — be a good neighbor. If you live near someone elderly or with compromised health, offer to pick up prescriptions…or groceries…or just put on a pair of gloves and place their paper, or mail, right outside their front door.

Reach out — we are ALL going to feel somewhat isolated and lonely, especially if we are sheltering in place, but imagine how you might feel as an elderly nursing home patient when no one is visiting anymore. Help maintain connectedness by paying someone a virtual visit or becoming a pen pal.

Try something new — been wanting to learn how to knit or play the guitar or discover a new language? Now is the time!

At the end of the day — or more accurately, the end of this era, which will certainly, eventually pass — will we remember this as the period when time stood still? Will we remember it as a time when people were treated like lepers for coughing in public? Or will we remember it as the era when the human side of humanity took center stage…when we became better people? When we changed our inner worlds so we could better face our outer environments? I am hoping for the latter.

Will we remember this as the period when time stood still…or will we remember it as the era when the human side of humanity took center stage, when we became better people?

We may be forced to take some hard knocks. Some of us will lose our jobs…or take massive pay cuts…or have to sell our homes. Some of us will lose our businesses…or our identities…or even question our own self-worth. And some of us will lose loved ones…and experience change in ways that we may not yet fully grasp. But we can also find a new way of being. One that is more compassionate, caring, thoughtful and kind. One that is less greedy, and less driven by the need for more/bigger/faster. (And if it also involves a large cut in the unreasonable cost of college tuition, that would be pretty awesome too.)

The world has hit the pause button. And while it will undoubtedly mean that there will be lost, beautiful souls, it can also provide an opportunity for us to think about who we are, and who we can become as friends…leaders…parents…people. If you’ve ever been through a natural disaster…or been at the scene of an accident…or lost a family member, you’ve seen the best in people come out. It’s because of the idea that “we’re all in this together,” so let’s be all in, with compassion and grace and become a better world in the process.