2020 has been quite a year so far. To call it unprecedented seems to underestimate the immense impacts, both positive and negative, on many levels of our daily lives. While we are still in the midst of the pandemic, what CAN we do and what SHOULD we do to keep on going?! These are million-dollar questions that I have been asking myself constantly. Here are some of my takeaways from the past 180 days…. to share with you…..
You are allowed to have a variety of mixed feelings, and YOU SHOULD, on a daily basis. I was forced to suspend all of my private practice and contractual work for more than 3 months. I have been mad, in denial, upset, depressed, anxious, uncertain, and doubtful even to this date. That being said, I am also learning to smile and enjoy more and more of the little wonders happening in my life. Not to mention that I have been extremely grateful for the time that I have shared with my loved ones, more than I could have expected before the pandemic. All these positive as well as negative thoughts and emotions have no doubt taken place daily; some days are better than the other. I’ve learned NOT to dismiss any of these emotions just because they are not pleasant; instead of letting myself focus on them, I’ve learned to acknowledge every single one of them and move on regardless.
Take the time to understand yourself better. Self-awareness is your best friend; YOU are your best friend during the pandemic quarantine. Don’t get me wrong. I love my friends outside the family, I love my co-workers and I love my social events (most of them). Yet, I haven’t felt deprived by being socially isolated within the small bubble of my immediate family. Instead, I’ve learned to create a retreat space to listen to myself, to heal myself, and to give myself permission to just be. It is important to understand yourself better: then you will be better equipped to deal with all the negativity happening in the news, social media, and the world at large.
Open your mind to learn and to embrace new ways of thinking and living. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been using the internet more than I would like to. However, sailing through the waves of online information has led me to discovering some new ways of thinking and living. I’ve found medical doctors who view COVID19 from different perspectives and advocate alternative ways of eating with environmental concerns in mind; I’ve found groups of like-minded professionals, who are immigrants and promoting social justice issues in the States; I’ve also found some international news medias and YouTubers, who offer different perspectives of current events other than the ones from the USA….. All this insightful information has made me think about what kind of life I would like to lead for the rest of my life. What kind of the world are we heading toward and leaving behind for our next generations? It is nerve-racking and gut-wrenching sometimes, but it is also full of hopes and silver linings in the dark clouds.
Think big! Think beyond yourself, beyond your time and space. Think of yourself as a crucial component of the human species and of the world citizenship. My 85 year-old mother has been telling me, “You can’t be better-off unless other people are better-off.” This is so true, especially in light of this global pandemic. One little tiny virus is now teaching us how connected we human beings are to each other; how closely related we humans are to other species and Mother Nature herself. We are on the same boat, and this boat will sink if we don’t work as a team. Cooperation, rather than competition in the name of freedom, would be righteous; selfishness has no place anywhere in the world under current situation. Every decision we are making, right here, right now, will have impacts on others in another place or another time. Choose wisely and conduct with conscience.
Practice small scale of kindness and gentleness to yourself and to others each and every day. For the past few months, I have been trying to take one day at a time. Each day from dawn to dusk, I would give myself 3 things to accomplish. Some days, I thought I could do more, while on days I felt down, I allowed myself to just “be”. No matter what happened on that particular day, I would find a few little things to cherish: a nice morning walk in the neighborhood, a piece of music, a passage from a great article, a positive comment on a friend’s FB status, a homemade meal with my closest loved ones, or even a vent to a like-minded person on a social justice issue. Anything pleasing your heart without compromising other’s should be a good thing to pursue on a daily basis. That’s all.
The path is the goal. When I was preparing to reopen LotusVoice as well as my hospice care work, I was feeling overwhelmed from time to time by all the guidelines and regulations that I would have to follow. I even had doubts if I would be able to come back to the level of my workload before quarantine. Too much stress and I was worried for my future. Yes, I was focused on my future and my past so much so that I forgot about “NOW.” I forgot that “NOW” is the only time I can control. It is in the last chapter of Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart that Pema explained the concept of “The path is the goal.” She said, “Now is the only time. How we relate to it create the future. In other words, if we're going to be more cheerful in the future, it's because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulate; the future is the result of what we do right now.” Yes, Pema, I hear you! Each moment and each happening could be and should be a teaching moment for my future endeavor.
Things will never be the same and should never be the same after this pandemic is over. Please join me in taking this moment to act, to be the turning point for the rest of our personal lives and for our one and only Planet Earth. Let’s commit ourselves to evolve into better individuals for our fellow human beings and collectively into a better human species for our Mother Nature…. After this is all over.
PC to Min-Hao Kuo