“Finding beauty in a broken world, is creating beauty in the world we find.” – Terry Tempest Williams
The year 2020 could be described as a pivotal moment in history for Americans. The country was already suffering from racial tensions, unequal healthcare access, economic hardships, and extreme political polarity. Once coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) hit the shores of the United States, our lives would never be the same.
The amount of suffering was undeniable. It was the worst pandemic during the last century. There were more than 200,000 deaths (that’s more than the Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan War, and Iraq War combined). Americans are resilient, compassionate people; however, we were not prepared for the long-lasting effects of this virus. The coronavirus drastically changed life as we knew it.
This was not the first virus to have such an impact on American society. Yellow fever demonstrated the need for the Public Health Service, which operates today as a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Cholera was the precursor to the formation of local and national organizations that improved sanitation and sewer systems. Malaria illustrated the need to redesign dams and the office tasked with this effort later became the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past, great sickness has brought great advances to our society.
Many conspiracy theorists and biblical leaders have developed their own meaning of this virus. My goal of this book is that you find your own belief and you begin to ponder things that you previously had not. I will not be speculating on the origin of this virus, since at the time of this publication, no origin story has been confirmed.
I will neither be quoting scripture, nor will I be connecting current events to historical, biblical prophecies of an appearance of the Anti-Christ. I will not be engaging in political, religious, or ideological arguments. These may be triggered in you, but I will not be entertaining the deeply entrenched tribalism of our times. I will not be condemning or condoning any actions of leaders or institutions, as I do not have the authority to do so.
To achieve this, I will objectively capture the current events as they are. My intention is not to catastrophize the details of this pandemic, but I will not sugar-coat them either. I will then provide a few insights and leave you with my interpretation. I can only tell you my personal truth.
We live and exist in the present perception. If we focus on the bad, we manifest more bad. If someone experiences throbbing pain, and they constantly complain about that pain, they not only have the physical pain, but also the self-inflicted, emotional pain. If we can see some speck of good in everything, it is less painful to live in the present.
Viruses can be a great equalizer. They don’t discriminate. They can infect you no matter your race, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender. They don’t care if you have great access to healthcare, or don’t have insurance. They don’t care if you have a million dollars in the bank, or only pocket change. They don’t even care what political or religious affiliations you have. Now, some people may exhibit a greater response to the viral infection, but no one is immune from the initial infection. This is nature asking you to respect it.
The coronavirus, or any virus for that matter, can be thought of as a spiritual teacher. The journey of surviving a virus the magnitude of coronavirus-19 is a process in illuminating one’s true soul. This virus impacted all areas of life. Nothing was left unchanged by this pandemic. Perseverance and value systems were tested like never before. This was a dramatic event which would trigger anyone to explore the tough questions of life.
Obviously soul exploration isn’t only done during catastrophic events, but it usually doesn’t happen when everything is calm either. Soul exploration doesn’t have to be done with external gurus. It is an independent activity. No one can intimately explore your soul better than you. Your essence, or atman, leads the way. However, it can be beneficial to have external guidance aid the progress of such an exercise.
By viewing the virus as a spiritual teacher, I’m not suggesting that the virus should be personified, worshipped, or held to the status of a spiritual guru. Rather, it should be respected and it does have something to tell us. Through this exercise, a deeper meaning and empowering call to action will emerge. The world will never be the same – not on an individual level, or a societal level. Living during the virus was a transformative experience. There was no returning to normal. There was only moving forward. That’s a great blessing in and of itself. Normal was highly dysfunctional. We should not want to go back to how things were. This was humanity’s opportunity to ask the tough questions, dismantle inadequate structures, dissolve the status quo, and give birth to a new way of life.
I aim to view the virus through a spiritual lens, not a religious one, in order to search for deeper meaning and gain a greater consciousness of, and connection to, the unity of all things. By doing this, perhaps you will be able to see some beauty amidst all of the tragedy. I’m not suggesting that the death and suffering is worth the lessons we’ve learned, but it’s not worthless either. Turning a tragedy into a learning experience can help us to evolve instead of repeat. It is much more pleasant to turn difficult times into an opportunity for growth, rather than a continuance of mere existence.
Periods of crisis and suffering can lead anyone to re-examine their life. We cannot control everything that happens in life, but we do have a choice in how we respond to it. Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind people just how fragile and precious life is, and that they should cherish their loved ones while they can. It’s also a time that triggers people to reconsider what really matters to them.
My goal is that this book will lead you to your own conception of beauty amidst all of the tragedy. As you read, take what resonates with you and leave the rest. You have to find your own meaning and interpretation. By doing this, my hope is that you start to gain a different perspective and appreciation for all living things. Many times in life we don’t have the power to control a situation, but we do have a choice in how we react to it. This is my reaction.