It’s been two years

I remember clearly a day in March when we hung out with friends and decided to go to a mall in Staten Island, New York. We had just started to hear about the seriousness of the COVID19 virus. It was to be the last day in an indoor public place for a year or more with a thousand anxieties, questions and concerns to follow our days and nights. We cleaned the table with wipes, carefully ate fast food, and left hurriedly as if sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye. This was followed by months and months of staying at home; going for long walks; driving down lonely highways and shuttered stores and restaurants. The whole world stood still, and we were witnessing it.

We had to cancel my mother’s 91st birthday party and do a Zoom call. On the call I broke down crying as I could not be with her or my kids or grandkids. She was the only grandparent my children had known growing up, and the separation seemed so hard. Only a month later one of our dearest friends passed on while in the hospital — he was the first casualty from COVID19 in our inner circle. This was followed by my oldest brother-in-law who passed away from COVID in Karachi, Pakistan. As the months dragged by, more friends, acquaintances and relatives succumbed. It was the scariest of times for us, especially fearing for the doctors in our family.

Amidst the fear and anxiety, new opportunities for kindness surfaced and delighted us. E.g., Our new neighbors ordered our groceries every week; wiped them down and brought them to our doorstep as we are senior citizens. Friends started to use Zoom and other platforms to connect with each other, whether it was a celebration like Eid for Muslims or a funeral prayer.

If I were to tell my 2020 Self something then that I know now, it would be that there was great benefit and purpose behind the pandemic. It made humanity pause and see its own endless consumer and activity grind. Yes, it was hard and had to be hard. Perhaps Mother Earth was tired and needed a pause from all this heedless doingness of the world and respite for all its beings. Perhaps all the animals who we shoved into tighter corners needed to teach us a lesson or two.

It showed us the power of science and how it could be quickly harnessed for good of all thankfully getting us vaccinated only a year later! If only we did that more often and as a collective global community. Alas, as the pandemic wore on and changed colors, forms, shapes to confuse all, the divisions and rifts came into stark relief. And maybe that was needed also, for the hidden thoughts to come out in the open with full anger and hostility. Maybe the divides had to be seen for them to be bridged? Not yet I am afraid, for things seem to be getting more tribal and violent. But as a caterpillar must destroy itself before becoming a butterfly, maybe we have to reach a stage where we are ready for a transformation of humanity which believes in Oneness and Flourishing for all, and works to create fairer systems that aim for peace and justice and equity without harming the individualist spirit and drive. As one spiritual teacher said, in the meantime, let us act locally, feel globally and think cosmically for we are in nothing short of a cosmic rearrangement.

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Wall Street escapee, retired, grandmother, coach, speaker, writer, blogger on peace, transformation and reclaiming our insaniyet (humanism)

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Mino Akhtar

Wall Street escapee, retired, grandmother, coach, speaker, writer, blogger on peace, transformation and reclaiming our insaniyet (humanism)