Being a Warrior in the Time of the Coronavirus

This is not the moment to exercise denial.

Posted Mar 25, 2020

All bets are off, and we in North America are now huddled into our safe spots, waiting nervously for this viral tsunami to hit so we can get onto our long road to recovery. It feels surreal to think that just a few weeks ago, we were sitting in restaurants and cafes, shopping, working, and generally going about our busy lives. We were doing our normal complaining about this and that, and all of those complaints now feel trivial. In fact, there might even be a bit of nostalgia for those old issues, a deep tug to return to the status quo ante, the “good old times,” and psychologically delete what’s going on now.

The suddenness of this crisis has harshly woken us up to a stark reality, shaken us from our magical thinking that life goes on forever, and happy endings are what we should naturally expect. Now that we’re awake and hopefully alert, we can see that this was in the making for a long time and predicted by scientists and others, such as Bill Gates, years ago. But that very human defense of denial resides in us all, and in many ways, we need it to get through tough times, but denial will not stand us in good stead right now. 

We in North America have experienced a very long stretch of relative calm, and yes, I’m even including the most recent political wars. Eventually, we’ll have nostalgia for those too, the way boomers do for the ’60s, even if they’ve forgotten the turmoil, war, and unbelievable cruelty that occurred during that era.

My advice for today comes from an explanation I was once given about the Warrior pose in yoga. The warrior stands, looking out over their outstretched hand, looking into the future and keeping an eye on what’s coming, their backhand reaches behind them, keeping a grip on experience without being too pulled off-balance, but the most important part of the pose is in the center crouch, where you maintain the stability for the whole pose. That part of the pose signifies the present, and we need to be firmly planted there.

We need to solidly take on this crisis each and every day and not be pulled off-balance by what we’re hearing about the future or by what traumas may be behind us that we may be reminded of. Perhaps more than ever, courage is the quality we have to dig for to get through this like warriors, and that can happen in each and every moment of our day.