Thank You Coronavirus

From my observations of the world this year—the year of the coronavirus pandemic—I have come to the conclusion that a spiritual shift is taking place. What do I mean by this statement? Well, for those who don’t believe in the spiritual, I guess you would call it a subtle shift in direction—a change of heart or mentality. To me all these are basically the same things. Our response to a physical virus has ramifications in so many areas of our lives as individuals and as a whole. While not every individual has gone through the same challenges as every other individual, I think the collective whole would say that things have changed or that change is in the air. I suspect that the multitude and variety of changes across the billions of lives on this planet, imply a bigger collective change—or, at least, an opportunity for growth and awakening.

Some of us are re-evaluating our vocation. Millions have lost jobs and had significant changes in occupation. Financial hardship has sent some people scrambling for social security, taking out loans, claiming insurance, and cracking open their retirement accounts, or actually retiring early. While for others, this has been a year of increased prosperity, additional work hours and new opportunities as we work from home and online.

Some of us are re-evaluating our physical health. Going on diets. Exercising more regularly. Experiencing the incredible link between physical health and mental stability, and the distinction between indoor exercise and outdoor exercise which also has an impact on brain serotonin levels. Others have decreased their physical exertions in favour of binge watching and overeating. Still others have had babies this year and can’t seem to shake the last five kilos (11 pounds).

There seems to have been a lot of relationship breakdown this year. Couples that were on the rocks for a long time have been tipped over the edge of the cliff by this shift in the spiritual climate of our world. We’ve been stuck at home more and the things that get on our nerves in our home-based relationships are getting on our nerves a lot more. A great big spotlight has thrown light on our weaknesses and many of us have been given the opportunity to either address those issues or to decide that we have irreconcilable differences.

My own marriage has struggled. With the added pressure of a second pregnancy and child, JD and I have had more fights this year than any other year since we met. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 2020 has been the hardest year in our relationship. We are working on our marriage. We’ve visited with a spiritual mentor. We’ve also added some reading time to our evening routine as a way to connect more deeply. We used to read together regularly before we had kids, so it has been refreshing to do this again and has sparked meaningful conversations. But the things that annoy us about each other are still there and we are continuing to navigate and negotiate the reality of our life as a family of four.

And I’ve experienced some loneliness this year. I’m guessing a lot of people have. Especially those living alone or feeling vulnerable and isolated during this pandemic. When you are told you aren’t allowed to catch up for coffee with your friends and family for an unknown period of time, it can actually spark the question whether you even have many friends or a caring family. I’m very lucky when it comes to family—immediate, extended and in-law. But honestly, I’ve lost a lot of friends, over a lot of years, for a lot of different reasons. In the past decade I’ve altered a few belief systems, married and given birth to two children. I have become more honest and less polite—perhaps we all do this with age? And coronavirus has brought to my attention the fact that I want more friends and deeper relationships with the friends that I have.

So, on the negative side of things, coronavirus has swept more than a million lives right off the globe, and caused physical suffering for many more. Millions of people are grieving and too many have plumbed the depths of loneliness. Domestic violence and divorce have most likely increased this year as well. But on the positive side of things, many relationships have taken the next step. I’m sure there’s been a spike in online dating and online wedding ceremonies. A baby boom is expected to result from lockdown and in my own circle of family and friends a lot of babies have been born during this period of social restriction. 2020 relationships have gone “kaboom!” in both positive and negative ways.

All of this affects our mental health, stability and well-being, and in turn our mental health—our thoughts and emotions—affect our reality. It’s like we are being woken up. We have been forced to ask questions like “Do I have enough friends?” “Am I working purely for money or for love of my job?” “How can I earn more money to support my family?” “Where do we go from here?”

Where do we go from here in this global financial crisis? Where do we go from here in light of the virus? Where do we go from here in our marriages? Where do we go from here in our businesses? Where do we go from here in the larger environment, with climate change and our carbon footprint?

When I was younger, I had this dream of becoming a writer. I never really doubted my ability to write books, even though it took me until I was 25 to complete one that I was truly proud of. But between the ages of 25 and 38 I’ve sold only a small number of copies. I’ve played a sort of tug-of-war with my dream. I’ve been selling myself the lie that, “I don’t know how to market my books.” That’s my justification for my financial failure specifically as a writer. But this year—in this mentally challenging climate, full of questions—my soul has been reminded of my dream to be a successful published writer by earning a profit from my writing. I’m blogging again. I’m editing the books I’ve already written. I’m re-vamping my website. I’m researching marketing and how to be a successful indie author. And I believe I owe some thanks to coronavirus.

There is so much opportunity in the air. Do you sense it? In amongst the chaos and death of coronavirus, there are new things springing to life everywhere. The Bible talks about the seed that falls to the ground and dies so that the plant can grow in its place and bear fruit. Rebirth starts with death. This was so true for me after my mother died in 2011. On New Year’s Eve my status update was something like “good riddance 2011.” And I know that a lot of people feel that way about 2020. But so many things changed for the better in 2012-2013 that I learned experientially what the Bible meant about one thing dying in order for new things to be born. I met my husband because of changes in my belief system that occurred as a result of my mother’s death. And even though it’s been a tough year for our marriage this year, I am excited for our relationship to grow and blossom through the fire and testing that coronavirus has afforded us.

I truly believe that the year 2021 is a year of opportunity. While 2020 has been an amazing year for some, it has been heart-breaking and painful for others. But this ache—this shift in spiritual direction or mental health: the changes and the questions—it’s all a wake-up call to make things better for ourselves and others. What I really want is for people to see the opportunity—the dream come true, the renewed passion, the rebirth in amongst the death, rubble, turmoil and trauma that the pandemic-year, 2020, has brought us—and to build something fresh in 2021.

So, I say thank you to the coronavirus pandemic and to the year 2020. Thank you and goodnight to you … and may tomorrow bring fresh hopes and dreams and something new to this planet as the year 2021 begins.