I am borrowing and adapting this metaphor from one of my meditation teachers.
Stage 1: The news starts to inform us about a new strain of virus, possibly more virulent that the fly. It starts to spread around the world and prediction become more and more dire. Fear, and even panic, starts to set in.
There we are in a waterfall cascading over a high rocky cliff. Everything seems beyond control. There is no apparent way out.
Stage 2: Heroes step forward — Doctors and nurses work around the clock while the unseen thousands keep the infrastructure of the hospitals working. Those who keep the food supply safe and available while risking their own health. Those who keep us protected.
We are asked to shelter in place and curtail business as usual for the common good. As the weeks stretch on coronavirus ennui sets in. We are tired for no clear reason, listlessness sets in.
Having survived the waterfall somehow, we are floating in a stream. Some of us are alone and some of us have company of family. Sometimes we swirl in an eddy or bump into overhanging branches. There are moments of tranquil waters but then another rapid and our bodies scrape over the hidden rocks.
Stage 3: The toll is staggering. Existential crises touch everyone in some way. Losses of all kinds pile up. The ordinary joys and celebrations of life are muted. The pain runs deep. For some the fear pushes into anger.
Still, the stream has emptied into the river, wider and deeper, but somehow we have been given life jackets. There seems to be more light in the sky and for some that offers renewed hope as there is a gradual opening.
Stage 4: It has not happened yet, but eventually the river empties into the ocean. There will be many lifeboats there to take us on the rest of our life journeys.
Some will want to turn back, climbing that steep cliff to get back to the top of the waterfall.
Some will push others out of their way as they clamor to save their own spot on a lifeboat. They will be taken to the large cruise ship that continues to slowly sink from the burden of greed, inequity, suspicion and hatred.
Some will calmly board to be taken to another cruise ship where they can stand on the decks and see the opening of a better world for all creatures of the earth.
It’s not just a matter of time . . . It is a matter of what we do with our time.