If Earth is a school for souls, and I believe that it is, Covid has been like the fire drill that shook everybody up. We were all sitting in class as usual when the alarm sounded and we had to head for the doors in emergency mode. Now we’re slowly returning to class wondering what the rest of the day will be like.
This Earth school isn’t like the schools we went to as kids though; it’s not separated neatly into grades where you know who’s who based on their teachers or their table in the lunch room. Instead, it’s one giant school where all the grades are mixed; it’s pre-K through PhD and you can’t tell by age, height, or location what grade anybody is in.
And this fire drill has given us all big lessons to work through at the same time.
When Covid hit I struggled a lot with the news. There was so much fear and negativity everywhere that I just wanted to hide my head under the covers. Beyond knowing how to keep myself and those around me safe, much of what I was hearing didn’t seem like my stuff.
But maybe it was somehow wrong to ignore a pandemic? That’s when I realized…
Everyone’s lessons are not your lessons.
This one thought was so comforting. To me it meant that I could allow the rest of the world to deal with their issues and just focus on handling my own.
I could hear about toilet paper hoarding without bringing it into my life. Was I panic buying excess supplies and creating a shortage for others? No.
Okay, so don’t do that and let others sort through that one.
What about all the news stories detailing every oddly terrible case and side effect of Covid? Was I personally experiencing any of this? No.
Okay, so wish the ones who are well and do my best to stay safe.
And all the commentary from people who were essentially saying the world was falling apart and would never recover? Was this my perspective? No. Did I want this perspective? No.
Okay, so allow them their worldview and hold tight to mine.
This determined focus on my own lessons turned Covid into more of an independent study, and it led to my other standout personal insight…
The Earth is a powerful teacher.
When she wants to give a lesson, she knows what she’s doing. In a matter of months, this virus stopped the whole world.
She can show us polluted oceans and burning rainforests and we mostly continue on with life as usual. But when she really wants us to stop — we stop. All it took was one tiny respiratory virus to make us all sit up in our seats and pay attention.
The question is, to what exactly? I think a wide variety of lessons will eventually come from this virus, but at a basic level, it’s pushing us to see ourselves as part of a worldwide community. And hopefully, to show more care for each other, and to extend that care to the planet that gives us everything we need to live here.
A big part of the Earth school lesson plan right now is focused on reminding us that the natural world deserves as much respect as our neighbors do.
Beyond that, I think it will take some time for us to all learn whatever we need to learn. I’m mostly feeling my way through it and paying attention to the kinds of life changes I want to make. We’ll see.