An ode to coronavirus

I’m a silver lining kinda gal, even if it’s only a sliver. If you have been following my journey with brain cancer, you know that about me. You will know that I’ve wrapped a black belt around my tumor and that I refer to it as sensei glioblastoma, and that I am on the hunt for as many blessings as possible, even if they come with having cancer.

Now the world is facing a pandemic, or what I like to call a panic-demic, due to coronavirus.  This new reality calls into question everything we do—where we travel, where we get our kicks, how we invest our money, how we go to school, how important toilet paper is, and most importantly, how we deal with our own fear. A friend recently wrote that viruses thrive on fear and panic, just like our tornado-head-in-chief does. It’s as if fear and panic make us delectable, irresistible to opportunistic predators who are in the business of hijacking free will and critical thinking, and whose end goal is to manipulate us, make us serve their purposes and not ours.

So the sliver of silver lining that I’m aiming for is a gateway to a giant reset button, for me personally, for my marriage, family, community, and for humanity in general. This is an opportunity to reset our priorities. We get to determine what’s important and how we spend our time.

More importantly, what’s happening is a giant reset button for how humanity relates to the planet, how we regard Mother Nature, how we take responsibility for how our actions impact our home and the home of all beings who live on Earth.

Take toilet paper for example. The local stores here have been cleared out, as if toilet paper is edible, essential for our survival. Excuse me, but… really? Maybe it’s because I’ve traveled to places that have never heard of toilet paper but manage to keep basic hygiene regardless, just as mothers have managed to keep their babies in clean diapers long before they were disposable. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in tiny edge-of-the world places where taking a trip into town was a major decision, one that warranted a substantial shopping list, not a whim. I certainly wasn’t going to travel 60 miles round-trip for a roll of toilet paper. We learned to make do with what we had, which means we valued what we had and didn’t squander it.

Squandering has got to stop. Maybe cruise ships have got to stop. Maybe plastic has got to stop. Maybe Wall Street has got to stop. And fossil fuels, and factory farming, and our throwaway culture, and, and, and…Valuing what we have, and being inventive and creative with it, has got to begin. Maybe we all need to write an ode to coronavirus and take stock of what we are learning from it. Maybe we need to paint.  Maybe we need to dig out the guitar from underneath the spare bed and tune it and start playing. Maybe we need to have an actual conversation with the people that we are living with. Maybe we need to put the music on loud and dance and sweat and laugh and cry. And when spring comes, and it will, maybe we need to dig in the earth. This is a wake-up call, an opportunity to push the reset button, hold it down, and fundamentally change how we live on Earth.

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