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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In Other Words: Whatever Is Before You Is Your Teacher

By Chuck Keller

It’s hard to imagine but the coronavirus has changed the world in ways that we never dreamed. Granted, experts play out these scenarios many times and at levels we never imagine. Their job, of course, is to prepare us for that possibility. We have stored food, equipment, and money at the personal, state, and federal levels to help during stressful times like these. It's frightening to think about the number of projected deaths and I admit that I am worried. But that’s not what I really want to talk about.

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It pains me to see people suffering through no fault of their own. Job loss. School canceled. Social distancing. Businesses close. Vacations canceled. Sports, dances, community events, festivals, concerts, shows all canceled or postponed.  And then there is that lack of toilet paper.

This situation is like tossing a stone into a pond. Sure we see the ripples move out and we understand that analogy pretty easily, but we don’t see the disruption that the stone causes as it sinks and hits the bottom. There's a disturbance in the unseen world. The disruption in the world is wide and deep and we only see part of it because we are so involved in it. Even though we need some distance to get a better understanding, we are becoming aware of the depth and breadth of change. But there are some things that have become quite clear.

Now I have said many times that I refuse to ask “Why me?” because it’s an unproductive question. Instead I ask “What does this have to teach us?” Or “What have I learned from this?” There is a Buddhist saying that “Whatever is before you is your teacher.” We have such a moment before us. Here are some things I have learned from our current situation.

* As a group, we adapt quickly. We have adopted new behaviors, new terms, and new skills. We learned to be flexible. And like the yoga teacher says, flexibility will come with practice.

* We either make our communities strong or we make them weak. The choice is ours.

* People are basically good. People check in on neighbors, family, friends, and those who are ill or have compromised immune systems and try to meet their needs. We are, by and large, compassionate especially toward those who suffer.

* We are social animals and we need to be around each other. Even though physical distancing is uncomfortable, I don’t feel alone or lonely.

* Technology is wonderful. I like how we can quickly and in real time connect with people, places, business, schools around the world. The techies are new heroes.

* Nurses and doctors are finally seen as the superheroes they are.

* Small business owners are amazing. I admire their flexibility and desire to deliver goods and services.

* Our supply chain is strong and keeps us fed, clothed, and entertained. Farmers, truckers, and grocers deserve a round of applause for doing what they have always done.

* Teachers are amazing problem solvers. Within days they created a way to transition to a new form of instruction that will have long lasting effects.

* Students are proving that the desire to know, learn, understand, and seek wisdom is vital to them. I know it may not be true for everyone but overall they have adapted and are even thriving on this new form of instruction. School will never be the same.

* Zoom, WebEx, Skype, and FaceTime connect us so that we are not alone or lonely.

* Home delivery. Thank you USPS, FedEx, Amazon, GrubHub, Uber Eats and all of the delivery services.

* Laughter is good medicine. We make each other smile, laugh, and experience the lighter moments during this challenging time with silly memes, videos, and cards.

* We are creative and inventive. It’s impressive to see how many people and businesses are making masks. The desire to help and the creativity of skill and design speaks to the human condition. Call it creative compassion.

* Even though we may be isolated, we are not alone. We are engaged.

We will never see our world in quite the same way as we did at the beginning of 2020. That world is history. It will never return. We adapt. We grow. We learn. We move forward.   That’s what we do because we are human. Governor Beshear begins his daily updates with the same words - “We’ll get through this. We’ll get through this together.” And he is right. We will get by. And we will learn. Make no mistake, I am worried. I am taking every precaution. The road has not been smooth but we are moving forward and each pothole teaches us something - if we are willing to listen.

One day we will be able to fully examine this episode and when we do, we will see that our ability to adapt got us through a challenging time.

The writer takes his daily temperature. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Keller - love your posts! Stay safe and healthy. See you around town this summer!