March 20, 2020

On the Shared Struggle of Reality

If we can accept that we do not deserve more than any other person, and that the impact of the loss of our own life will not matter or less than anyone else's, we may finally be able to fully experience reality, as it is.

On the Shared Struggle of Reality

Living in a society like the U.S. has lots of benefits. I'm married to an immigrant who has told me that the reason he came here was for the stability and security that America has to offer. I think that's true of many who choose this country. Why else would you leave everything and everyone you love, and start over in a culture that often refuses to acknowledge the value of the place from which you came? The other day he remarked that he wasn't too stressed out, because things like this happen all the time in other parts of the world. He recalled food rationing when he was a child, gas shortages, and curfews during times of political unrest.

The relative stability that comes with living in our very particular American society has, perhaps, come with a price tag. We are comfortable, and unaccustomed to a rapidly changing environment. We have gone on for a long time without being challenged or tried. Without questioning our frameworks. Without examining cracks in our foundation.

There are people all around the world who are also trying their best to limit the spread of COVID-19. Many - perhaps most - are in places that have not even a fraction of the wealth and luxury that our *middle class* enjoys. Yet, they are doing what they can, with what they have, where they are. And I'm afraid it's because they understand better than many of us do that we are all interconnected. Contrasted with photos from our country of crowded spring break beaches, and grocery markets cleaned out by hoarders, it makes me wonder at what point does having too much become a liability for the soul?

This is not about privilege shaming. Nor do I want to diminish the anxieties or fear or loneliness anyone is experiencing right now. Only, I hope we can have some perspective.

Because of all our wealth and freedom and the examples of fabulous success with which we have been indoctrinated our entire lives, it is possible for everyone here to create a false sense of reality in which we are the center of our world, and all things that happen happen for a reason that is somehow relevant to us. We believe we are blessed or cursed because of our choices; that we are in control of our destiny.

If this pandemic has done anything positive for me, personally, it's made it clear how little control I have; how interconnected the entire world is; and that coming to terms with this reality means acknowledging my insignificance in the grand scheme of things. It has made me question why I should be safer, more secure or more protected than anyone now - or anyone who suffered from circumstances like these throughout history.

Does it make me feel small and sad? No. It makes me feel relieved. Relieved of the 'burden of greatness.' It makes me feel free to live and love fully and wholly in this moment and in every moment because none of the moments in my future are guaranteed. It makes me feel a sense of relatedness and respect for the lives of those billions of humans who came before us, who lived in trying times and did their best, and whose names are now forgotten forever.

It makes me feel... fully human.

We must do whatever we can to help ourselves and others, yes. But we also must recognize that we are limited in what we can do, and even with our best efforts and all the luxuries we have, tragedy may still find us.

If we can accept that we do not deserve more than any other person, and that the impact of the loss of our own life will not matter more or less than anyone else's, we may finally be able to fully experience reality, as it is.

At least, until we regain 'control' again, and things go back to 'normal', and the the veil of ego and desire drops before our eyes once more.