We are all asking ourselves that question right about now!
In the first couple of months of our “COVID Adventure,” it seemed a bit exciting and even interesting. Of course, there was suffering too, but we all felt engaged in a global joint effort. We learned new routines and many of us got into new diversions and interests. We thought it would last for a few months and then life would get back to normal.
Now that it seems this experience will go on for at least many more months, and perhaps even another year or two, we’re all wondering how long it will last, how we’ll fare on a personal level, and what the outcome for our society will be.
Naturally, most of us have adapted to life under COVID. That’s what humans are really good at — adapting. And in some places around the world, things may even be more or less back to normal, at least from a day-to-day perspective. In other areas, like where I live in northern California, restrictions have not eased very much since the end of May. It feels like we’re living in a perpetual twilight zone of indeterminate length. But no matter where you live, you probably feel the global collective energy of suffering that envelops us all.
So when will this end? This must be answered on two levels – on the personal and on the global level. For both, the answer is essentially the same: This will continue until what is no longer brings suffering.
On a personal level, the COVID experience will end for you when your outer experience no longer seems onerous and your inner life feels more joyful once again. On a global level, this experience will end when the world goes through the same transition. How can we get there? I believe that we must achieve the first in order to achieve the second. That is, global healing will require more of us to be personally healed.
So how exactly do we do this?
To answer this question, we need to ask another: Why is this happening? Is it because a virus spread from a market in China or from a bioweapons lab? Is it the work of a cabal of technopharma evildoers?
I would like to suggest this: Blaming your suffering on external causes is a sure path to continued suffering,
Let’s entertain a new and deeper possibility, one that many in the spiritual community have been suggesting. Let’s try on a new theory about why this is happening:
Our current state of angst has been triggered by a spiritual energy whose underlying goal or purpose is to coax us individually and collectively into a shift in consciousness.
How it has manifested has taken many outward forms: the virus, fear of viruses, misguided notions about maintaining health, pollution, corporate and government corruption, greater awareness of racism and misogyny, climate disaster, and more. But outer circumstances have always triggered outer and inner forms of evolution. That is what and why this is happening now.
We all knew a change was coming. We didn’t know when, but the time is now.
Our next step is to acknowledge that each of us is reacting to these changes in a way that is unique to us. For some of us it is anger and impatience. For others it is fear, worry, depression, or guilt. Yet others choose the escape route and go into self-indulgence, self-drugging, or perhaps even suicide.
Your job is to recognize that your personal reaction to what is going on is your clue to the work you must now do.
Of course, this has always been true, even before COVID. But now it is critical that you engage with this truth.
Are you angry and impatient? Work on that. It’s likely been your go-to reaction to many things in life. Are you scared and anxious? Work on trust and letting go. Are you too drunk or stoned to even read this? Shake yourself back into consciousness. Are you sitting in blank depression? Get up and get going. Each of us has a job to do now.
To motivate you, I suggest that you begin by assuming that this is going to go on for at least until the end of 2021. Stop waiting for a vaccine or some other magic bullet to appear that will end your suffering. Assume that nothing will change for the next year or two.
Now, you have a choice.
1) Stay stuck in your current state and remain in pain and suffering for what might be years.
2) Heal your reaction to what’s going on, which is likely your typical reaction to many things in life, and evolve.
If you choose option 2, you will find that your personal process of healing will require you to do various things. Some will be outer actions. More important, though, will be inner processes of healing. For me, my tasks include going out more in nature, meditating more, getting back to my art and music, reducing my watching or reading content that stokes my fears, making more of an effort to socially connect and form bubbles with select friends and family, more healing work vis-a-vis my lifelong emotional habits, and building up my inner gratitude and trust. For you, it will mean other actions. Once you embark on this path, you will gradually become joyful again and your suffering will diminish on a personal level.
Finally, if enough of us choose option 2, the whole dynamic of the world will change. Perhaps we’ll share more of our personal resources with our neighbors. We’ll become more generous and less isolated. Governments will become less corrupt and violence will decrease. Global efforts to repair climate disaster will be energized. In other words, there will be a cascading effect and humanity will start doing what it needs to do to create a more joyful world.
So it’s up to you. And, it’s up to us.