When humanity began to adapt to the spread of the novel coronavirus, it caused interesting psychological reactions. Isolation means different things to different people. In terms of productivity, I noticed two basic responses.
Some people (like myself) trumpeted seizing the day. Write your novel! Start a blog! Declutter your homes! Finally, there was time to tackle the big projects.
Another personality type posted memes about how you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t get out of bed for a week. Be good to yourself. Sleep as much as you need. Take hot baths. After all, no one alive today has ever faced circumstances like these.
Both are strong reactions to fear and uncertainty. Neither is right. And they both are. My clients, friends, and family have all vacillated back and forth, as we integrate the two polarities.
Self-isolation has created new opportunities and problems. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to is on the fence as to whether the juice is worth the squeeze.
In March, I was enthusiastically getting ready to teach Mythic Manifestation, my first myth-based goal-setting seminar, and preparing to enroll in a Mythological Studies Ph.D. program this fall.
Just like that, my goals evaporated. Like everyone else, I’m grieving the death of a dream, the dream of the future I believed in. There are moments when I want to curl up and never get out of bed.
My massage business had to close. With my primary source of income wiped out and fearing I might never see my family again, I left San Francisco to shelter with my dad and stepmom in Oklahoma. (This is your indicator that Hell has indeed frozen over.)
Driving across the country was a hasty decision I will never regret. Not only did I enjoy a super-cool Route 66 adventure, but now I’m getting to know my parents in a way I never would have otherwise. I would not have chosen this experience, but wouldn’t trade it either.
At the collective level, people all over the world have time to examine and practice their values. For one thing, the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota cop might have been swept under the rug like countless others, if not for time, attention, and energy freed up for people all over the world to say “enough is enough,” possibly leading to long-overdue systemic change.
Here’s the timeless truth: Today’s actions determine tomorrow’s options.
What you do matters, but not because it makes you a good or bad person. Your inherent worth is a constant. Nothing you do can ever make you more or less valuable than you already are. You are essential. You are a necessary part of the cosmic dance, with all your strengths, weaknesses, and perfect imperfections.
Of course, it’s great to rack up some accomplishments. Achieving goals builds self-confidence and God knows we need that right now. However, you need not punish yourself for not having the self-discipline to write an Oscar-worthy screenplay while achieving the ultimate home-gym body, or because you haven’t solved racism or topple patriarchy yet. There’s no cosmic judge staring down disappointedly at your lack of interest in the things you said you would do if you had the time.
Please don’t measure yourself against a superhuman ideal. (I tried it for years. It sucks and it’s unhelpful.) Likewise, be generous with people who are struggling, especially if you’re one of them. Anyone who says he hasn’t had a bad day in the last three months is either lying or oblivious.
The reason your actions matter is because they literally create the future!
If you do eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
If you do one push up, you will begin to build muscle.
If you write 500 words, you will have something you can edit.
If you tell someone you love them, you’ll feel more connected.
This is the first issue of Crossing the Threshold, the beginning of a new journey for me. It came out of a process of asking myself what is important to me, what I enjoy, and how I can help. I invite you to do the same thing.
Are your thoughts and actions aligned with the future you want for yourself, within the circumstances? You may not be able to end COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an awesome life of magic and meaning. One day. One thought. One action at a time.