How Now Must We Live?

covid19 lifelessons relief May 16, 2020

What do you make of these wild and stressful times, and how are you managing?  What signs have you seen, and what does it all mean? Beyond circumstances, today, I offer a couple of suggestions should you find yourself in need of respite.

Signs direct us. They save us time and sanity, get us where we want to go, lead us where we need to go, even where we should go. As a young woman growing up in the wilds of New Mexico, I learned to “read signs” as a means of survival and later as a means of “seeing” the bigger picture, Un Grand Design. For me, and perhaps you, too, some potent life lessons are presently available. In my view, no different than usual. 

What does appear to be different is that nearly everyone on the planet has seen the same signposts. Still, though, it is up to each of us to have our own experience and to respond. In popular culture, over the years, many of us held out hope that a collective experience would bring us together. How’s that idea going for you? More togetherness, yet? Rest assured, whatever your microcosmic experience, if you look, you can see it reflected in the world. (Elsewhere, too, but I don’t want to go off on that tangent.) 

In my observation, we “believe” or trust very little of the available covid19 (and its societal fallout) information. Yet, that smidgeon of facts is enough to drive a wedge of separation between friends, colleagues, neighbors, and total strangers. I haven’t seen the math on this, and may never get to view it. I remain curious and attentive, however.

How now must we live?

I continue to find solace in ancient texts from wisdom cultures. Universal guidance is refreshingly helpful and a relief from this noisy world. Or have you already discovered this approach? For example, here is a piece of wisdom I saved in the Notes feature of my phone sometime last year- attribution lost. 

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind,” philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) wrote in Meditations, considered one of the greatest spiritual works ever written.

“Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

Our mind is perhaps one of the greatest assets we have, spawning the creativity and ingenuity behind nearly all of (hu) man’s creations. It is what allows us to think and feel, perceive, and judge, holding within it the power of imagination, language, and consciousness. 

But, our mind can also be one of our greatest enemies, a battlefield where some of the fiercest wars are waged.

How, then, are we to protect ourselves from getting caught in the crossfire?

According to Aurelius, otherwise known as “The Philosopher” or “The Wise”, it all comes down to our perception, or how we choose to perceive the things that do or do not happen to us.

We must begin by not blaming “factors” for our unhappiness:

“External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now. If the problem is something in your own character, who’s stopping you from setting your mind straight? And if it’s that you’re not doing something you think you should be, why not just do it? – But there are insuperable obstacles. Then it’s not a problem. The cause of your inaction lies outside you. – But how can I go on living with that undone? Then depart, with a good conscience, as if you’d done it, embracing the obstacles too.”

“Embracing the obstacles, too.” How very Zen!

If I may, let me suggest you try simply writing out how you feel, why you have these specific feels, and whether you have felt this way in the past. Is there anything left unresolved? What did you learn? These days I find myself more often in silent meditation, contemplating methods and philosophies of old, and doing more writing just for me. Writing helps me discover what I feel and what I think. Writing helps me conclude how I want to feel and what I am choosing to do to “get there,” or more accurately, “be here.” This process is effective, which is the reason I suggest you try writing as a way to get your world sorted enough to make space for you to live more comfortably in it.

Are you making use of the richness of this unprecedented (in our lifetime)  learning experience? Or are you “staying in out of the rain” so to speak? Write to me. I am ready to listen! My email address is-  [email protected]

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