Alone and Together: We Are Always Both
Finding our best selves in the pandemic days.
Posted Mar 13, 2020 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
These are scary days for so many people worldwide, and it is not only the virus that is frightening, but the experience of separation from other people. Whether in active quarantine, or just taking mild precautions (hold that hug!), we are being asked to remove ourselves a step or two or ten or thousands of miles, from other people. It all makes sense, but…
It is sad having to cancel plans with friends, dinners out, the passing ease of connection with people in stores, in the park, at the movies. Vacation plans gone. Weddings postponed. That chance to see a loved one postponed, possibly missed forever.
Then there’s the illness, the threat of death. There’s the world at large, coming together on news maps, as if we are sharing across the world, in ways we never do. We are used to maps, in the US divided into red and blue. We are used to maps of the world divided into allies and enemies, borders, geography. What’s it like to see the map of the world, slowly but surely, filling in with the same color? The virus is connecting us all, while, at the same time, we move to separate.
What would it be like to feel both more connected to all human beings, as we live together through this shared danger, and at the same time, feel ourselves whole and complete within ourselves, separated from much of our normal human contact? What is it like to evoke, within ourselves, two of the most basic human capacities, that actually stand in polarization more often than not? Aloneness and togetherness.
This is an invitation that exists in this moment. There is no bad guy here, no one is to blame. There need not be any “them vs. us” mentality. We are all in this together. Every human on the planet at risk. And we are each alone in this, each with our own high or low risk, our own losses of life opportunities, our own fears, our own bodies.
Breathe in the knowing of our inviolable connection to all life. We share the same air. My out-breath is your in-breath. And yours is mine. My germs might likely become yours, or yours mine. And so we are asked to move away. For some that is real aloneness, one person quarantined at home, in hospital, in a country that is not theirs. For others, it is loss of community, family, even minor daily connections.
So following all the guidelines that make sense, how do we, emotionally and spiritually, stay connected to our fellow humans, be they loved ones that we cannot visit for an unknown amount of time, or our larger humanity, where we can empathize with the many who are at life and death risk, who are suffering, who have no safe place to self-quarantine.
When a loved one is away, traveling, off to college, moved away, we feel them with us, even though they are not there in body. We email, call, text, even write letters! When someone we care about has died, we grieve, mourn their loss, remember them and feel our loss. When we read a news story about events creating suffering in places we have never been, to people we will never know, we feel compassion. In all cases, we wish these people, close or distant, well. We hope for the best for them. We hold them in our hearts.
This we can do now, every day, for every person known and unknown, safe or in danger, next door or across the world. This will connect us to our global citizenship.
At the same time, we are invited to come closer to our inner world, to the “me” that is just that: me, not them; here, not there; now, not later. This will connect us to our own soulfulness, our own Self, the only one who will always be with us, because it is us.
Hard times offer us a chance to become more, better, truer to our values, more solid on our own and more connected to all. This difficult time need not make us less, deplete us, or reduce us. It can offer us another chance to follow our deepest truths, to become our better selves. One day at a time, joy and sorrow, alone and together. Peace, Love, Strength.