a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.
Some years ago my life was completely upended. Before this period of upheaval that left my carefully constructed life in ruins, I had experienced many moments of feeling that something wasn’t quite right about how I was living. There was an inner voice nudging me to look at what wasn’t working, but I felt comfortable and safe and I didn’t want things to change. Well, change came anyway and perhaps more bluntly than if I had listened and acted earlier. What followed was a long and tumultuous period of deconstruction and reconstruction. I won’t lie. It was the hardest thing I ever went through, and I’ve been through some tough stuff.
As painful as it was at times, I discovered an inner strength and discipline I didn’t know I had. I began to meditate and learned to quiet my mind. I met my shadow. I taught myself to pray in a way that felt right to me and developed a spiritual practice. I followed that practice whether I was feeling consumed by fear, grief, anger or uncertainty. Consistency got me through what was paradoxically the worst and best thing that ever happened to me.
I see a lot of similarities between my own personal time of upheaval and what is happening on a global scale to humanity. We’ve all known for some time that the way we are living is untenable and unsustainable. We are quite literally bringing our planet and our species to the brink of annihilation and yet we’ve created a socio-economic and political-power structure that cannot stop…ever.
There can be no pause or reflection, no ‘maybe we should change course’, because the larger system, in its current state of inertia, continues in its existing state of uniform motion. Then along comes a terrible virus; the external force that is bringing this great machine to a screeching halt.
I have no delusions or fantasies about the unprecedented suffering that this virus is causing, especially for the most vulnerable among us. The loss of life, of financial stability, of access to resources, will not be fully grasped until this is all over. All of that is real and must be felt, acknowledged and fully met. As hard as this is to have the old way of life ripped out from under us, there is potential in the upending of the old paradigm.
I remember a moment during my own time of struggle where I was feeling only the loss of what had been and the heartbreak was so intense I didn’t understand how I could still be alive. In the midst of that pain I could sense a little glimmer of potential. When the known falls away, anything becomes possible. I held onto this flicker of potentiality like a lifeline. It guided me when I had no idea what was going to happen to me or what road to take, because there was no road. If I tried to control or mitigate or make something happen before it was ready, things fell apart and the hardship only increased. I had to let go. I had to surrender. I had to be with myself even when I couldn’t stand it. Gradually, things began to shift. The path before me became clearer. I emerged on the other side of the storm a completely different person. I was more humble, more compassionate, and more in touch with what really mattered to me as a human being.
I don’t know what is going to happen and I don’t know when we will be on the other side of this storm. I do know that this too shall pass. I also know that transformation can be painful. My hope and wish and prayer for humanity is that we too emerge on the other side of this transformation more humble, more compassionate, and more in touch with what really matters so that our species and our blessed planet can thrive.