The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, to say the least. It is as if a giant pause button was slapped for the entire world. Kids are home from school. Businesses are closed indefinitely. And then the insidious vibrations of fear can be felt in every grocery store plundered for goods, every cough suppressed in an elbow crook. The shockwaves of the virus pandemic have rocked the world and hit even the most distant corners of modern civilization. We have come face to face as individuals, and as a society with the brutal and blunt unknown.
So what happens now? There is no definite answer to this question and anybody who pretends to know is simply guessing. We are however faced with an unprecedented situation. The seemingly ultimate manifestation of the “hyper-connected, socially distant” society we were racing toward is now here. We can communicate with a friend halfway across the planet on a screen, but we can’t safely sit within six feet of our neighbor without risking contamination.
This is a time for introspection. The majority of the human population has, for a moment, been removed from the rat race and given a rare opportunity to pause, ask themselves what kind of race they’ll want to run once the wheels start spinning again.
These broader esoteric, society-facing questions ripple outward from us all. As we turn inward, the principles of mindfulness provide a roadmap to a productive mentality. Sitting, breathing, washing a dish, watching the dew on the grass can be done with uninterrupted concentration. For now, finally, there is no rush. One can appreciate all the small things, the things that are important to them. To be alone with one’s thoughts, or one’s family, or one’s housemate seems a daunting task at first, but can provide a fruitful experience.
Connected through our devices yet physically separated, we have a golden opportunity for a global resurgence of philosophical and enlightened discourse. What world shall be created after the darkness of night has passed and the brightness of dawn once again emerges on the horizon? Shall it be one where a man ignores the person right next to him on the street? Shall it be a world of social gatherings where we continue to socially distance behind our phones?
It certainly doesn’t have to be.
As the planet heals, we too must heal as individuals and as a civilization. As the things we love and hold dear are stripped away, one by one, what remains is our existential core. Let us grow from this. Let us grow into a beautiful new world, step by step, through kindness, gratitude and positive mindful action. Little ripples from individuals are felt all around the global pond. Let us individually and collectively take this time to determine what kind of ripples should be sent out.