The lockdown has given most of us a gift of more time. You may need no help in filling it with worries or distractions, so here are my ideas about the positive possibilities.
- Radiate love: My experience of the lockdown is that simply sending out love is one of the most helpful steps we can all take. The lack of material activity (car traffic etc) can enable us to feel the atmosphere in our society more clearly, and I perceive it as having a lot of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, mixed with love and generosity. Send out your love to your neighbourhood, and to stress points like hospitals and refugee camps.
- Reach out and help others: in these very uncertain times, strengthening local communities and supporting others further afield are both vital. By helping others, you do this, and nourish your own wellbeing too.
- Record and value the recent past: I suggest you write a retrospective journal to help you remember all the freedoms and experiences you enjoyed in the months before lockdown, because you may not enjoy them again for a while. When at last we emerge, we will need to recall what we value in what we lost, so we can press for its restoration.
- Be very thankful for the present: gratitude fuels our resilience, so focus on all the good aspects of your life right now, savour and enjoy them to the hilt.
- Nourish your positive hopes for the future: Like Thomas Berry, I believe that creating and affirming your vision, dream, new story for life beyond lockdown will raise the chances of them happening. Probably we’ve all read convincing stories of a negative future (Big Brother state and more), but we can offset this as individuals and groups, by envisioning and speaking up for positive change.
- Overhaul your views on mortality: Yuval Noah Harari in the April 25 Guardian Review comments that the medieval response to plague or other lethal epidemics was resignation: whereas now, we see them as a technical problem which could have been resolved by more resources. The pandemic plunges us into an era where our own death looks nearer, and where others’ deaths are on the news every day. This could be a chance to consider a third view of death: as a transformation which has positive as well as scary aspects. To explore this a bit, see my blog on the book Testimony of Light. The intense but short-lived beauty of bluebells and other spring flowers may be an aid to your pondering.
- Reconsider your response to climate change: Jem Bendell’s recent blog tallies with other experts’ view that Covid-19 has arisen because of climate-related habitat disruption. Try imagining that a severe ramping-up of climate impacts has now begun and will probably continue, without the significant periods of ‘return to normality’ which we expect between crises. And then imagine that there is plenty we can all do, as individuals and communities, to raise our resilience and our adaptive capacities to face this scenario. Bob Doppelt’s book, Transformative Resilience, is a valuable guide for this journey.
- Stay grounded in Nature: you’ve probably found, as I have, that there’s now a deluge of good material on the internet, online seminars and so forth. As a counterbalance, keep actively engaged with Nature, see yourself as part of it, and enjoy it intensely with all your five senses.
- Find a new guiding metaphor for our times: our political leaders talk of waging war on the pandemic, but it’s a misleading metaphor. Wars usually have a clear ending, a peace treaty, closure. Coronavirus, like climate change is likely to continue with no clear ending: more likely, we will have to learn to adapt and live with it. So, it’s a good time to see what guiding metaphor helps you to make sense and respond to the current situation. I find that concepts like transformative unravelling, or adaptive uncertainty, help to orient me.