3 Keys for Answering To Life in the Middle of a Global Crisis (and any other time)
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
“Each man is questioned by life, and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life, he can only respond by being responsible.”
- Victor Frankl
Times of question calls us to be responsible for who we are and how we show up. A responsible answer for our own lives can look like taking the time to grieve current circumstances or past ones that are just now catching up to us. It can look like be willing to be present with uncertainty and listening deeply to what our spirit is offering. For many of us, it looks like navigating the chaos of working from home while taking care of children.
Regardless of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you personally, you have the power to respond responsibly for your life.
Here are a few reminders of how to do that:
Permission to Change
“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
We learn new things by following a pattern given to us and then making it our own, and at least as far as our body-mind template, we don’t have much of a choice in the initial rules we are taught.
We develop our first language from the people we are around most in our early years. The words and tones are ingrained into our mind and body before we even have a concept of the thousands of languages and dialects that exist. We adopt other patterns of thinking, feeling and interacting with our world similarly. We receive the templates handed to us.
What is unusual about this time in history is that so many of our patterns have been disrupted at once. Our templates for purpose, social interaction, routine, business, food and so many other aspects of our lives are simply not available to us in the way we knew them before the COVID-19 pandemic.
When our patterns are disrupted, we have the opportunity to fully see them (which can be hard), and choose a new one that resounds stronger with the truth of who we are.
It’s like walking out in the Houston heat after being indoors and realizing your footie pajamas are suffocating. You might at first struggle with what the problem is, then go through a spectrum of emotions about the heat and your footie pajamas, then, at some point, decide to do something different about your outfit. Our life is full of disruptions. What once worked, doesn’t work anymore and we get to change. Go ahead, you have full permission.
This time is incredibly challenging. The disruption of COVID-19 is causing immense suffering. That suffering is in many ways unavoidable, and what will add to our suffering is clinging tightly to our old patterning that no longer serves. It takes excessive energy to operate in a pattern that does not feel aligned. It’s like trying to go about your daily life wearing the footie pajamas just because your aunt gave them to you. You don’t have to wear that, feel free to change drastically. The climate is calling for it.
Freedom to be in Process
“To truly know yourself is to live on a constant journey of self-exploration, to learn about yourself from reading, therapy, and best of all, talking incessantly with others who are traveling on similar paths. This hard work is well worth it because it is the way you become free to choose how you want to live and love, own your life and become truly the author of your experience.”
- Janet Hardy & Dossie Easton in The Ethical Slut
Maybe at first, you decide to unzip the whole get-up, then realize being naked in the city isn’t really the route you want to take either. So, you might go through a series of putting them back on and deciding with more certainty that you definitely don’t want to wear the footie pajamas as they are. So, maybe you cut off the footies, then the arms, then create some kind of V-neck and maybe you like it for a while. But then, you decide you cut too much, so you make-shift tie some of it back together. Then, maybe at some point, you decide to go back inside and put on some shorts that feel the most right yet, until the weather changes.
The kind of adaptation we are experiencing right now is not new. When the stay-at-home order is released, the process of adaptation, deciding who we are and how we want to orient to this life will continue. We always have been, and will be asked by life to shift patterns and relate in new ways, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Power to Explore and Discover Richness
“…Empowering us to explore the universe for what it is, rather than for what it seems to be…We achieved true cosmic vision only after seeing the unseeable: a dazzling, rich collection of object and phenomena across space and across time that we may now dream of in our philosophy.”
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
I think I would be annoyed if my outfit magically changed to perfectly match the temperature and setting of every place I went. I would start to declare my right to sweat in my footie pajamas in the middle of Summer if I so choose. There is a richness in change and our power to adapt to it, even if it is at first unseeable.
In moments of our deepest darkness, we still have our personal power. No disease or economic collapse can truly threaten our ability to discover the richness of life, no matter how unseeable it is right now. Inside each of us is an astronomical amount of potential.
We get to surrender to our circumstances. We can’t control most aspects of what is happening in our world right now. That part is like the climate of Houston. It is what it is. What we can control is who we choose to be, how we choose to orient, and our pursuit of the unseeable.
This is a time of ebbing and flowing, orienting and reorienting, unseeing and seeing. May your journey be full of permission, freedom, and power however you choose to use it.