The Virus is our Teacher
In last month’s blog, I outlined the many ways the behavior of a ‘strange attractor’ seems to regulate events on the earth. Through the chaos of bringing opposites together, life is returned to balance. Since that time, we have all found ourselves in world-wide lockdown. Many are experiencing a closer and more intimate connection with family, while others remain understandably frightened. But the virus is our teacher.
Viruses have been driving our evolution since we diverged from chimpanzees. The virus we are currently struggling with may be awakening us to our connection to the larger organism of life.
We are learning that nature is in charge, and are witnessing how quickly nature can arrest unsustainable practices and perhaps, the growth in CO2 behind global warming. Additionally, the world is standing up against the inhumane treatment of animals in the 'wet' markets in places like China, where the virus is believed to have originated.
There Is No 'Other'
Nature plays no favorites. It balances extremes in a broad picture that ensures the welfare of all creatures and the environment. During these uncertain times, we have the opportunity to truly witness our inter-connectivity to the larger organism.
At the smallest scale, the coronavirus is a ball of protein, which is not a living thing, and yet, very natural. Many viruses are beneficial, even necessary for life on earth, and we wouldn’t be here without them. The battle between pathogens and their hosts is a major driver of our evolution. Thirty percent of all protein adaptations that drove the divergence of humans from chimpanzees came by way of viruses.
A virus requires a host to even begin to function, and hijacks our RNA or cellular communication to replicate itself. Because our immune systems have never encountered this coronavirus before, our bodies do not have a ready-made antibody for defense.
On a wider scale, the quick spread of the virus has revealed how connected we really are. We practice social distancing, both for ourselves, and for the welfare of people we may never meet through any physical contact. That may be the extent of our feelings about our unknown interconnectivity, but the connection goes deeper still.
As described in my Strange Attractor blog, we are all connected to a larger organism and its pursuit of balance. Because we cannot see the larger connection of this highly complex system, crisis can feel like an attack in the form of the 'other,' or everything 'that is not us.’ But there is no 'other' when the entire organism is being swept up into life's evolutionary thrust.
Just as the virus easily becomes a part of us, specifically because it speaks our genetic language, the same thing that threatens us might actually be leading us to evolve. We cannot minimize the suffering taking place right now, but we also cannot minimize the positive outcome of what we are learning.
We have begun a journey of understanding how we are the guest here, and not the host.
We Don’t Make Decisions in Life
We believe we make decisions and can spend much time worrying about the ramifications. Encountering something unexpected frightens us, and so the mind works overtime sorting out possible solutions. Life has simply called us forward because life is moving forward. When the time comes to act, we have little choice, but to go.
We can imagine being attached to an endless and invisible train as life advances toward wellness and growth. We cling to the past, and attempt to protect what we believe should endure. This creates drag, not unlike something caught in a bramble bush. We witness how, with a mere tug, life forces us to let go. Through natural disasters, we discover how we are building our houses on something that is very much alive.
Crisis can feel like we are fighting against a current that is going in the opposite direction – only while we attempt to wrestle control. Because we don’t like change, we may have spent weeks mulling over decisions that would have allowed us to sustain the status quo, as if it is even possible. When change knocks on the door, we do what the situation demands. The decision is often made for us, and we have little choice in the matter. When we recognize how we are being led, it can actually lead us to live more joyfully.
When we fight against the flow, ‘all that is not us’ becomes the enemy. Here we are, in our little boats, believing we must row harder against the current to survive. It never occurs to us that we are rowing in the wrong direction. If we just let go, the current will lead us exactly where we need to go.
Life has designed us with autonomous processes that keep us healthy, without one iota of thought on our part. Why would life suddenly become our enemy? Life doesn't discriminate. It is simply driving growth as it balances extremes in a long term picture of wellness.
Believing we make decisions is the basis of our suffering.
Learning How to Trust the Flow of Events
We can look at the above scenario from a different perspective. We encounter something that frightens us because it was unexpected. Immediately, we come up with numerous frightening scenarios, and our anxiety levels begin to rise. But we do nothing and take a breath. We await the outcome with a sense of faith that life knows what it is doing.
By giving up a sense of control, we discover how everything seems to work out and can live a life with less stress. In fact, we observe how much time was wasted defending ourselves against changes that were actually beneficial for us. Somewhere along the line, we give up being the host and relinquish control to something else. Surrendering offers a sense of peace, and allows us to relax into a curious appreciation of how incredible life really is.
Building a trust relationship with life is like any partnership. Meeting a potential mate brings up all the uncertainties that come with sharing our intimate fears and lifelong dreams. The relationship only feels nourishing when we are open and trust each other. Rather than 'me' vs 'you' it becomes 'us.' Rather than 'you' vs life, you can appreciate that life is supporting you in the same way. It is all about trust.
Life gives us a seed, dirt, water and sunshine, but if we want our garden to grow, we must care for it. Today, we see how pruning or taking away might be a path to growth, because life is a gardener too. We can't put plants that love water next to ones that require less water and expect both to survive. We can't put tall and bushy plants over the sun loving, ground crawlers. Yes, life is in charge, but we have a responsibility to adopt its way of gardening.
How can we not marvel at the numerous organs that run our body with little or no effort on our part? Just as the human machine is well designed by nature, going against nature and ignoring sustainability is like rowing in the opposite direction. The tug forward always comes.
Ritualistic behaviors that draw human crowds in close proximity to wild animals, who are caged and slaughtered in a bizarre, medieval entertainment...well, nature is going to decide the outcome, and it will be about sustainability, not superstitions.
Becoming the Guest
There is a saying in Taoism: “If you would set something up – you must first lay it down.” All changes require that we sacrifice a past way of doing things for the future. Watching the ‘laying down’ can be as wonderous as knowing how something different and more fantastic might be ‘set up’ in its place.
And in the spirit of the 'strange attractor,' we watch as opposites are drawn together right before our eyes. Those who were upholding beliefs in one political ideology are now adopting the practices of their adversaries. Democrats are appreciating the importance of sustaining big businesses, while Republicans are seeing just how powerful the working class is to the economy.
Leaders who were viewed as lacking character are being acknowledged for their resilience and positive attitude. In times of darkness, rallying the masses away from fear becomes important. Entire populations were left powerless last year, as leaders were demonstrating an abnormal amount of control. These same leaders now stand against nature with zero immunity in the face of this awakening.
Suddenly, the hatred that was so blatantly shared months ago, falls flat like a bad joke today. Liars are now sooth-sayers, and those who ridiculed the crisis were sent into quarantine ahead of the crowd. Nature does not play favorites and we are all in this together.
Superstores and international distribution channels may give way to the return of local enterprise. Why? Perhaps local enterprise is how accountability can become more transparent and effective. We can't sit in our houses and order something 20,000 miles away from abusive labor factories. Life is going to lead us into the exact scenario that is sustainable for the entire organism.
The Chaos of Change
Becoming the guest allows us to appreciate just how the environment and nature protects itself. The 'strange attractor' may finally quell the argument about global warming.
Something is blowing through like a wind, and it knows exactly what it is doing. From order to chaos to order again, it knows how to shape wellness from chaos. Whatever the outcome, life is going to lead us to evolve.
We never had control and we have always been life's guest. Perhaps this realization will return our joy and wonder? More importantly, because we are witnessing our connection to the larger organism, releasing ourselves into life's flow can actually uplift us. That is what evolution does.