prayer hands lessons of human connection

Human Connection Photo by Chelsea Heller

The End of the World as We Know it is an Opportunity for a New One

We took a walk outside today as a family. Armed with Clorox wipes and tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. The same bottles currently being sold on secondhand websites for hundreds of dollars. If there is any blessing to having a newborn during this COVID-19 crisis, it is a closet already stocked full of wet wipes and sanitizing products.

The streets of San Francisco are virtually deserted, other than families like us, whose dogs and children require fresh air and grass. I look down at my three-month-old son sleeping soundly. His cheeks jiggle as the stroller passes over bumps on the sidewalk. He is peacefully unaware of the insidious virus attacking our world and for a moment, when I look at him, I forget too.

Occasionally, people pass us, most in masks, and I notice that many make sure to walk as far away from us as possible. Averting their gaze, as if they could catch the virus through eye contact. While others go out of their way to smile and nod, desperate for connection.

Runners seem to cross the street to avoid passing us or maybe we do too without realizing. We come across a church with shuttered doors and a sign that all services are canceled.

“It feels like the end,” my husband comments.

Perhaps if you look around at the decimated supermarket shelves, the people in masks, the empty streets, it does feel like the end of the world.

But I think this could be a beginning, too.

A beginning of a new way of living.

As COVID-19 spreads like wildfire across our globe, it is hard not to think about anything else but the end of the world. To not let fear arise as we sit in the unknown of it all. To not panic and react. Or avoid and disconnect. Desperate to keep things as they were. As we knew them.

Yes, this will probably be the end of life as we now know it, but it is also an opportunity for a new life. An opportunity to learn about ourselves as humans. To come into a new way of being.

People gathering yoga and COVID-19

Human Connection Photo by Chelsea Heller

This is an opportunity to move at a new pace.

With the closing of schools, businesses, and travel, many people find themselves at home. Suddenly, the busy-ness culture that fuels the West has shifted. Fast food is being replaced with homemade. Running around with sitting still. Outsourcing with do it yourself.

Many of my friends and family members joke that they are “bored” even in the midst of chaos with kids at home and regular schedules upended. But inspiration can be found in boredom and in that space. What if this time was not a loss, but an opportunity for innovation and creativity? What if the schedules that we once packed to the gills with “have-to’s” were being cleared so that we could get clear on the essentials. Essentials including taking care of ourselves and those we love? What if we were being given the gift of time, together?

This is an opportunity to come together in new ways.

One of the more difficult things we are being made to do to prevent the virus from spreading further is “social distancing”. As human, we are being asked to go against our most basic need for connection.

Although we may not be able to see one another in person right now, we are learning how to connect differently. And in doing so, even more deeply. With our extra time we can finally make those phone calls we’ve been meaning to make. We are moving away from the shorthand texts and promises to hang out to which we had become accustomed. Now, we are really looking into one another’s eyes, even if it is through a screen.

This is also a rare moment in history when we are having the same global experience. It does not matter what country you are from, what race you are, the political party you identify with, or your sexual orientation. We are all fighting the same war. If we let it, this experience could bridge gaps and bring us closer together than ever.

This is an opportunity to take better care of ourselves and each other.

One of the greatest preventative measures is taking care of our health. This is not just about washing our hands or cleaning our homes. This about looking at how we are living our lives. The cleanliness of our friendships. The purity of our words. Our human connection. And the authenticity of our energy.

With the shortage of resources, we are more mindful in our consumption. With the limitation on commerce, we are supporting each other in different ways. With the reduction of pollution, we are seeing skies where we have not for a long time.

We are being reminded that what we do impacts others. That we are not alone; no matter how lonely we may feel. We need to take care of one another to survive. In learning how to take better care of ourselves, we are learning how to take care of each other.

This is an opportunity for a new world.

Before we know it, this will all pass. And it won’t really be the end of the world. Things will try to go back to “normal”, but they will never be the same.

And why would we want them to be?

To change will mean we have grown.

We have transformed.

We have begun again.