It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
Can you believe that on this day many years ago (although not that many years ago), people lined up to get the very first polio vaccine?
Seeing the picture above really made me stop and think this week. It made me think about the life-saving work being done by scientists and researchers as they toil in small rooms for years trying to find a cure that will one day help us all. It made me think about the importance of investing in this type of work. It also made me think about how often history feels like it repeats itself.
The other day, a friend said to me, "I’m so over 2020! It’s nothing like I thought it would be."
That, my friends, is an understatement! I don’t think any of us thought we would find ourselves here. None of us could have predicted that we would be sheltering in place this spring. The 26 million Americans who have now filed for unemployment also couldn’t have predicted they would find themselves here.
We couldn’t have imagined that we would be waiting in long lines and standing six feet apart to get into supermarkets, just to buy the essentials. We couldn’t have imagined that we would be waiting to get tested for a disease that most of us had never even heard of a few months ago. I’m sure none of us would have thought that our country would have been so ill-prepared to fight this pandemic. I know I didn’t.
But, here we are. Sitting in the unknown. Standing in the uncertain. We’re thinking, wondering, and watching as certain states test lifting their stay-at-home restrictions. We’re watching as certain groups of people take to the streets or the beaches in open defiance of orders to stay at home—orders that we are being told are working. They are keeping our neighbors safe and helping our health care workers stay focused on saving lives.
I find myself angry at those images and those people, even though I don’t know their stories. I find myself irritated with my office building landlord, who I feel won’t give me and others a break. That said, I don’t know what he’s going through, either. I find myself really saddened when I think this was supposed to be the week my youngest son was supposed to graduate from college. He had been planning for it all year long, as had I and so many others. Now, there is nothing to attend. I’m trying to plan a virtual graduation, so wish me luck.
Like so many others, I find myself dealing with a bowl of conflicting emotions that I don’t really like. So, I try to close my eyes and take myself back to the new year with all its promise, and all my hopes and dreams. I take myself back to my hopes for myself and my family for the year ahead. I remind myself that I wanted to focus on my health in 2020. (That’s now more important than ever.) I wanted to get my home in order, which I’ve done. Check. I wanted to deepen my relationship with my children. I wanted to grow my internal fortitude. Check, check.
As I go down my list, I’m reminded that all of my hopes are still possible because they all involved relationships and people. They involved strengthening qualities within me that I wanted to fortify so that I could stand strong in what I like to call “the open field of life.” At the start of this year, I wanted to be more loving, more compassionate, and more empathetic. I wanted to open my eyes and see the world through God’s eyes. I wanted to open my heart and let love flow in and out of me like an ocean. I wondered then how I was going to do all of that. I’m not wondering that anymore.
And so, while we may not be able to do everything we had imagined at the start of this year, we can all do internal work that will surely help us in a post-“stay at home” world. If we want to leave our homes more united than we were when we went into them, then we will all need to strengthen our compassionate sides and drop our judgmental selves. We will all need to open our eyes to things that we couldn’t see before we stayed home. We will all benefit from opening our hearts and letting the love flow. (If this sounds interesting to you, please join me and hundreds of thought leaders, faith leaders, and wisdom teachers this coming Friday for a 24-hour global show called "Unite," organized by my brother Tim Shriver. Find out more from The Sunday Paper Recommend below.)
After all, the only thing that’s certain is the uncertainty of the present moment. To be able to stand patiently in that, we are going to need a whole lot of compassion, patience, resilience, and understanding of ourselves and others. If I truly want to come out of this better than I was at the beginning, then I’m going to have to find some understanding for those I’m watching and judging. I’m going to have to work on my patience so I can stand calmly in line—be it for toilet paper or (let’s hope) for a vaccine. And, if I really want to be better, then I’m going to have to acknowledge that I still have work to do inside my internal home. I must if I want to leave my home better than I found it when I went in.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, as I stay at home, please help me also use this time to work on my internal home. May I grow more loving, more compassionate, more empathetic. May I strengthen my fortitude and my ability to seek calm and stay calm. May I find the patience to see my way through this. Amen.
Join Panache Desai every morning and for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
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