Amid the mire of COVID-19 (the Corona Virus), I have been soul-searching for what matters most in life. Judging by the pilfering of the bread aisle and toilet paper from grocery stores, it would seem that many think bathroom visits and toast are essential to human prosperity.
The world is watching, waiting to see what news is coming from other nations regarding their death tolls. People are now quarantined to their homes, a place I must admit for me was little more than a bed and shower for much of my adult life. Many of us are attempting to work from home while also being homeschool teachers for the first times in our parenting adventures.
Before this time, I filled my life with martial arts training, social events such as church and music shows, and frequent trips to coffee shops. I am not sure what to make of my social life being shuttered for the time being, but I must endure it.
That’s the catch. There are times in our lives that we must endure. We certainly don’t mind enjoying the good times, but we too often fail to prepare ourselves to outlast the bad.
I reminded a co-worker the other day, amid her panic about the pandemic, that there are endless stories of people that span the course of humanity with far greater problems and substantially fewer resources than we have today. We have indoor plumbing and electricity (lovely privileges to have during a crisis and world outbreak). We still have necessities such as food and shelter, often more than most in third-world or war-torn countries.
Even in our recent history, just a hundred years ago, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, there was no technologically advanced laboratory with which to test for a vaccine. Much of it was done in cruder settings and with more archaic tools.
During the quarantine, you may find yourself with much time and mental wandering, which may add to already heightened anxiety levels. Rest assured, this virus will not stop humanity, nor will it keep us from creating magnificent works of art and mind while in quarantine. Harken back to days when humankind produced greater ideas with fewer resources. Scroll back to ancient Greece where blind Homer had no modern amenities, yet wrote prolifically, never mind the great minds of Plato and Aristotle.
If you cannot find your muse to create, then crack open a book, or your kindle, or even Audible. There is a world of knowledge waiting for you to read it. Take insights from others who have survived and persevered during trials and tribulations.
If you feel like a captive in your home, read Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan (not to be confused with his larger cousin, Paul) while he was imprisoned in the late 1600s. Or you may read James Stockdale’s Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot. Stockdale spent eight years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam with little aside from the teachings of Epictetus to keep him sane and steadfast in his mission to get himself and his men home.
Speaking of Epictetus, it is almost as if he had lived through hardships (born a Roman slave) and knew to some extent what it was like to suffer when he said, “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
It is a weird time to be alive, and we certainly cannot choose all of our external circumstances. We can, however, abide by the quarantine and remain at home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus. It doesn’t have to be that bad if you don’t want it to be. Make the best of it.
Keep going and keep growing, and let me know what you think in a comment below.