I started checking death tallies from the very beginning of the Coronavirus spread in China. I pretty well tweeted daily the increasing numbers of fatalities, never expecting China or now France, where I live, to be so severely hit. Some of the people following my Twitter account must have thought I was obsessed with death stats. I guess I have a propensity to think about death, but don’t we all? We know very well that we all die, we just never think it could happen to us! But here we are again, half the world’s population in lockdown, and now more than ever, reminded of the fragility of human life.
When I had brain surgery in 2012 I didn’t know if my tumor was malignant or not. I just had a sense I’d be okay, I was 50 years old, never spent a night in the hospital and I felt invincible. Three years later my invincibility-swagger changed when my mom died of cancer. after my dad called me with the news, I knelt at my bedside and sobbed. A part of me was gone, forever. And I knew, saw it clearly too, I would one day henceforth join my mother in leaving this ‘land of the living’.
The death stats of Covid-19 are no laughing matter, especially for those over fifty. The percentages don’t lie, our ability to overcome this virus as we age decreases. Drastically. And age we do, it started the day we were born! But not everyone sees life as an incredible gift to be honored and respected until… …you see your mortality in some way. The more we are in awe of the life living through us, the better we see that each day is a story of gratitude. Even so, much about life is out of our control; it seems random, who gets sick and who doesn’t? It has little to do with who deserves sickness or health more, or believes or doesn’t believe certain religious stuff, or any of that nonsense. It just randomly happens and without pity. Nonetheless, we do remain in control of at least one thing, and that is our response to whatever circumstances come our way. We can respond with courage or we can act in fear. But for courage to take ascend in us, we need to find some meaning in our circumstances.
I’ve come to the conclusion that courage is a learned response. It is gained with adversity. Fear is seems to be innate, it can overpower us so quickly. Fear is like borrowing tomorrow’s emotions about some future that we are sure is nothing but terrible. Courage says no to those fear emotions. But it is not foolish or uncaring. It simply says, “I am ready for the good and I am ready to accept whatever comes my way, if and when it comes to my life. And I choose to not be afraid, even when statistics tell me to be.”
Europe is in an unprecedented death-crisis in my lifetime. Italy, Spain and France continue to see countless covid-19 deaths daily. Now America has woke up to its greatest challenge. The anvil of adversity is busily shaping the future of the planet. And though we still don’t know what all of this will look like three or six months from now, there is a growing hope that our world will change, really change! We hope for a humanity that will be more environmentally sensitive. Wars, we hope, will become more rare. Societies will become increasingly fair and enjoyable for all. Yes, we should hold out hope for a kinder world where everyone matters.
It will take tremendous courage for us to not default back to the selfish survival instincts that got us to the place we are, but instead take new steps to bring about a new way of living life. Though I’m not that far removed from reaching sixty, considered the more susceptible demographic of not surviving if I get the coronavirus, I still chose courage. I do not want to live bound in fear. And I choose this hopeful scenario for our planet over the doomsday sayers telling us ours is the Late Great Planet Earth. No, we are not in a countdown to the end, but to a birthing. Our present pain is full of meaning. Mother Nature is talking to us, if we are listening she says a new world is possible, that something new and beautiful can come our way.