The End of “Normal”–Now What?

As I sit, day by day with people, I hear and feel the anxiety, the depression, the hopelessness, the fear; the way you know there’s no more normal or place to go back to in your old life and then we work with how your own lives are reflecting this larger malaise…and inevitably we talk about COVID, we read about COVID, we rant about COVID…

I am going a little bit farther out on a limb today to share some thoughts—this originated as a response to someone reaching out with important questions and concerns after my last newsletter. I thought about their questions long and hard and it’s flowing naturally into my next offering to you.

There is so much inflammation in our collective field. We are on edge, our nervous systems are reactive, the ground under us will not stop moving—for some of us this is subtle, for others gross. Having something to focus our worry, fear, outrage upon, well, we have needed that. However, at this point, I believe this is becoming a dangerous distraction as it has inhibited our peripheral vision. I share today in prayer, in hope, that we can all begin to widen our scope of sight, that we can all build the necessary muscle to be with Life as it truly is, without the veils of distraction.  If you are distressed by me calling COVID a distraction, let me say this—it is BOTH a huge and real and terrifying crisis AND a distraction to a larger perspective that needs our presence also.

Via my strange humor and the funny-not-funny lens I can sometimes look through, I see COVID as the ribbon cutting ceremony welcoming us into a new era: Climate Collapse.

COVID has irrefutably awakened in us the reality that we cannot overpower, outsmart, or disregard the serious human-created “illness” of culture and environment. COVID has made the reality of our collapsing systems and eco systems personal and the threat real. Our suffering and death due to this shared illness is now measurable, experiential, terrifying and close enough in that we can no longer look away hoping and praying our collective dis-ease will go away. Just like COVID, no, it won’t, or at least not without clear committed and inclusive efforts by each of us to shift our lives, to cultivate presence, to come back into balance.

We are here.

COVID continues to be catastrophic for our communities, our families and so many aspects of life that have been destroyed or degraded by it. AND while we fight for what we believe in via trying to control each other, and live in terror of getting sick or our loved ones dying, we are overlooking the bigger issues at hand that very much also need our attention–it is what Noam Chomsky would call the strategy of distraction, one that is being used on us and has been for quite some time, to terrifying effect.

At risk of being called pessimistic I believe that devastating illnesses and other climate-related issues are here to stay and that it’s time to build our strength and resiliency, not to build walls and divisions. We can make vaccines, we can make more rules or less rules about how everyone must live, we can move and keep moving, but no matter what we do and where we go, human suffering is on the rise at our own hand—and if you are reading this, you are among the most privileged and blessed of humans on this planet and therefore carry a high level of responsibility in this time.

Ok, so, now what? What are the solutions? Action steps? Ways to shift this?

As usual I say–go inside, work from within, be relentless in your quest for self-understanding, yes especially in the dark places.

When serious change is needed in a system, I think there are 2 useful principles to work with:

  1. Consider a wide range of solutions and simply allow all perspectives to exist.
  2. Nothing is as simple as it seems, so keep asking, listening, wondering, and adapting– especially as new challenges rise. 

If more of us would hold these ideas central to our actions and conversations and information gathering, the curiosity and care we need to navigate this time without tyranny rising any further would be possible. Our current way of relating is creating “lock downs” via inhibition of creativity and the necessary exchange of ideas. Dehumanizing each other, determining what is right and what is wrong-for everyone– has caused so much damage and is often created intentionally by external forces. This is not a conspiracy theory or an exaggeration, it’s just what we know via history but keep forgetting.

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