Coping During COVID-19: An unlikely teacher

Image: Canva.com

“Our teachers come in many forms.
A teacher can spring into our lives from any corner, at any time,
and if we are open, we can receive teachings from improbable sources.”

–Tamara Levitt

I have been saying all along that I think there are lessons and gifts to be taken away from this period in our history that, in the U.S. in particular, is getting more and more tragic daily.

We have had to learn to live without seeing our friends, colleagues and even family members and without socializing. Parents have had to learn how to home-school their children, quite often while still having to juggle their own jobs. Individuals and families have had to figure out how to survive when money stopped coming in. Couples have had to learn to spend time together again. The uninitiated have had to learn new technologies. Friends and families have had to deal with unexpected loss. As a nation, we have had to deal with a complete failure of our government to respond to the crisis in order to mitigate its impact, bring us together to combat it, and reassure us that we will endure, while other nations have done all of those things and are seeing returns to normalcy.

On a more positive note, it has been wonderful to see individuals, families, communities, and even corporations, use these crazy times as an opportunity to give back, to work on relationships and to work on themselves. As an extrovert with pretty strong empathetic tendencies, working on myself, learning to be alone, and trying to ease the suffering of others have been key to helping me get through this time.

Thousands of people had the time to devote to marching and protesting for days and weeks to fight against inequity in our country. There have LONG been teachers of racial inequality, but maybe now the students could hear and truly listen and act.

There is a Buddhist proverb that says:

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

I believe that for some of us, that teacher has been COVID-19.

COVID taught us community because the idea of wearing a mask isn’t necessarily about the wearer, but about the greater good.

COVID taught us resilience because almost all of us, except maybe Jeff Bezos, has had to endure something, be it the loss of a friend or family member, social isolation, economic challenges or something else.

COVID taught us how to entertain ourselves. The stores ran out of flour because people were baking so much. Sour dough starter became a trending topic. On-line yoga, meditation, fitness, language, music, baking classes and blogs and vlogs proliferated and we Zoomed together. Pets got adopted. Urban gardens on tiny patios popped up.

COVID reminded us that we need community, and the news and social media feeds were filled with random acts of kindness by one community member to another who was a stranger.

COVID reminded us that even if we are mad at someone in our family, they could be taken away at any moment. There is no better time to work on forgiveness than a global pandemic it turns out.

My own learning from COVID was coupled with the equally unlikely teacher of an ex-lover. While we weren’t together long, our time was intense and because of him, I was reminded of my own need to continue on my personally journey in a mindful manner. COVID gave me the time to do that. One thing I’ve been working on is meditation, and I have actually been doing at least 10 minutes each day. That never would have happened without those two teachers.

Perhaps some of us were ready when COVID appeared to teach us. What has COVID taught you? What teachings will we take with us as individuals, communities and as a nation when this has passed? Will be remember this time only as a time of death and division and darkness? Or will we find the light in the dark?

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