Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #51

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”

                                                                  John Buchan

If ever we had a need of an occasion for hope it is now. Fighting the pandemic is certainly a bit elusive. Can I catch the virus from you? Can you catch it from me? And so it goes. Social distancing is our chief tool to bring this crisis into containment. As we always have, right now we have two choices: to live out of possibility or live out of no possibility.

There is so much to contend with right now. There is anxiety and fear each time one sees or hears the news, goes out to get food or necessary supplies. There is also an underlying grieving for the huge degree of losses we are presently coping with. For many there is the loss of jobs and income. Plus there is the loss of freedom to move about, our restricted mobility and stresses of living alone or of living with others and possibly feeing cramped. Then there are those going out and working and coming back with the uncertainty of whether or not they may be transporting the virus to family members.

So it is important that we bring resilience to our present lives. Resilient people are those people capable of withstanding shock without permanent damage. They are able to recover from a crisis or adjust easily to the difficulties encountered. Easier said than done. I imagine those on the front lines will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and will assistance later, if not soon.

Here are some of the things resilient people tend to do that we can all attempt to incorporate:

  • They stay connected – when they are down or having a tough time they are able to relay on others.
  • They’re optimistic – they tend to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
  • They’re spiritual – they hold spiritual convictions and often have religious practices that help them especially in times of difficulty.
  • They’re playful – they have a sense of humor and can even laugh at themselves (not in a put-down way).
  • They give back – they know the benefit derived for themselves when they give to others.
  • They pick their battles – they are folks who focus on things that really matter and do not get derailed with useless issues.
  • They stay healthy – good diet and regular exercise aid them in keeping healthy and well.
  • They actively seek solutions – they look for solutions rather than endless drama over problems and issues.
  • They find the silver lining – they convert misfortune into good and gain strength from adversity.

Resilient people see possibility where no possibility seems evident. The thing is that as soon as we choose to come from a place of possibility, no possibility will also show up. It then tries to take over. It’s good to know this ahead of time because once those persistent, little whisperings such as “nay” or “who are you kidding” or “you’re not smart enough” start kicking up in our brain you can see this for what it is, and use it as a clear sign that you are actually on the right path.

Take it as an indication that you are doing the right thing. It’s nothing but sabotage and, rest assured, it will make its annoying appearance. But by seeing it for what it is, it will not have the power it once held now that you know it’s just sabotage. And here’s one important fact: All sabotage is self-sabotage.

Once we understand sabotage as a part of one’s movement toward one’s goals and purpose we become freed up to live the charmed life of a seeker of elusive yet attainable goals. I don’t care if you are after a fish or after a million bucks or an Olympic gold medal.  It all becomes much more doable and more within reach. It’s not a guarantee, but thinking so makes it quantitatively more likely.  Now that’s a hopeful thought; certainly a worthwhile one.

We’re in the throes of a global pandemic, as if I needed to remind you. Most of our individual and collective efforts are about surviving it. Then, once we get able to return to living our lives we will undoubtedly face the resultant effects of an economic recession. Ultimately we’ll manage this as well. The price that many are paying and/or will pay will be high. No question.

And in spite of all we are presently dealing with and will yet deal with, what I contend we ought be doing today is getting clarity about what will come next. I propose we do some forward thinking and decide what kind of world we want to have after Covid-19. In other words, we need to be proactive.

There are many lessons we can and should be learning from this. Many people are already becoming proactive. Countless people doing heroic things, some loudly but many more are doing so in small, quiet ways. All are doing many things differently to defeat Covid-19. We seem to be doing things either with mostly an anxiousness or with new intention and consciousness. I think we are potentially moving into becoming a part of a movement.

There appears to be a ground swell of people who are recognizing the ramifications of the lack of preparedness because of systemic short-sightedness. This crisis is highlighting some very glaring pitfalls and faulty components within our democratic society: a healthcare system that excludes too many, inequities in the world of work, the lack of built-in safety nets for many people, people without  decent jobs, housing or opportunities for these things.

This is pretty hard to ignore right now. Conscious people are not interested in just getting back to business as usual. It’s early to name it, but I would say we are beginning to experience a profound consciousness that “We’re all in this together.” With such understanding comes a potential of an emerging need to make right what has been tolerated and not right for way too long.

Possibility or no possibility? We are going to get through this terrible crisis. And the simple reason we will get through it is precisely because so many good and decent folks are indeed coming together in a hundred thousand ways and are making a huge, ground swell of difference. As more and more people do come together they too may be waking up and realizing that we need do all these things AND we must continue to do much more when we get beyond this pandemic.

Right now we are seeing people volunteering to get school children’s lunches out. People are sewing masks for hospitals workers and others. Private companies are retooling to make medical equipment; wealthy individuals are donating to purchase what is in short supply. States, local governments and private businesses are collaborating to help each other.

There is untold kindness and generosity being exhibited everywhere in neighborhoods and towns and cities. These behaviors are activating our society. We are like a sleeping giant awakening! I pray this will continue and more people are drawn into to this awakening. There can be an unintended good that hopefully comes out of this crisis. It need not – must not – stop when we get past the pandemic, and/or even when we recover from a recession.

This pandemic can be seen as a collective initiation experience we are all undergoing. It is destabilizing our so-called security and our egos into recognizing what really matters and is essential. Can we learn the lesson from this global pandemic that we are all one in our humanity?

Most of us who are privileged have become very naive about pain and suffering. We go about as though we don’t have time for it, or we attempt to handle all suffering through denial, will power, medication or therapy. Richard Rohr, OFM, reminds us that “we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us.” It does this by moving us into deep, mysterious ways that become the source of new life.

What are we going to do with the pain? Are we going to blame others? Are we going to try to fix it? No one lives on earth without pain. It is a great teacher. Yes we do not want it and would rather not admit it. I hope we do not go back to the same old business as usual. We can utilize this global initiation process and recreate ourselves and our world into new possibilities, and do so with courage, conviction and intention. 

I will tell you what kind of a society I really want. It turns out money does not make the world go around. Love does that. So, for starters, I favor a more loving society; one where we carry this idea that we are all in this together, that we are one humankind, and we all either win or all lose. The foolish strategy of one over the other has never been effective or life-giving.

We are all created equal. The coronavirus has shown us this very well. It treats us all the same. Yes, there are those who are more vulnerable. This has always been true. But the real point is that it behooves us to take care of everyone because otherwise all are at risk.

I want to live in a society that holds taking care of our more vulnerable as a given – on-going, and not just during pandemics. This means we go about uprooting causes of inequity: poverty and injustice; but also our fundamental ego driven judgments, racism and prejudices.

I want to be part of a society that provides universal health care for all. I want a society where people are not forced to choose between medications and food, where people not live pay check to pay check, or have to have two or three part-time jobs without benefits. All this while we bail out corporations, whose CEOs mismanage yet get huge bonuses. I want equity and greater opportunities for all our citizens. Need I say this includes all people regardless of race, creed, sex or sexual orientation?  

I want to be part of a society that cares so much about the next generations that we make important decisions to turn around global warming and restore this living organism – planet Earth – for generations to come. This includes yours and my grandchildren’s children. You know a person’s values by where they spend their money. As a nation we always find money for wars, but when it comes to human kindness and liberty and justice for all, we are told we cannot afford it. This is WRONG.

Let’s not go back to the way we were before this global crisis. Let’s recognize that we are all God’s creation, and made in God’s image. God is love. WE are love. When we recognize our True Self we see that love is the essence of who you and I are. In the end love always wins out. May this be our not so elusive but attainable future, and this may provide us with a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”