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All in this Together

September 14, 20235 min read

8 Reasons

Life rarely goes as planned. In the words of Pema Chodron (one of my favorite spiritual teachers), “If you are invested in security and certainty, you are on the wrong planet.” This certainly rings true for everyone living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one could have anticipated the reality that is now becoming the new normal. “Quarantine,” “social-distancing,” and “self-isolation” are becoming terms that we are all-too-familiar with. We spend our daily time on Zoom meetings, working from home at jobs that we’ve always been told “couldn’t be done remotely,” and home-schooling our children. Face masks have become the new fashion statement and wearing them out is the new expected social norm–when we get the weekly occasion to leave the house for our necessary visit to the grocery store.

Somewhere, deep inside of myself, I suppose I have always been ready for something like this. Being raised Pentecostal, I’ve had a certain sense, a “knowing”– that the “end times” were near. In some way I’ve been expecting the great apocalyptic event of my lifetime from a very young age. Yes, it’s true that this is the stuff that they make movies about, but now we are living in it.

No matter how “prepared” I thought I was I wouldn’t have expected this to happen now, to happen here, to happen in the way that it is.

To say that the rug got pulled completely out from under me would be an understatement. Professionally, I won’t deny that this has been a major obstacle; there is no way to sugar-coat it. The pandemic announcement hit us the very day that my new travel company website was (finally!) ready to launch. (Read more about this in my next blog….) It was truly an “ironic” moment, honestly iconic enough to find a place in the Alanis Morosett song from the 90’s.

But it isn’t just me and my dreams. The rug has been pulled out from everyone and everything in our society. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of worry about how this is affecting underserved and underprivileged people in our community, knowing that they will inevitably be the hardest hit (as usual) from a “force majeure” or an “act of God.” All of our systems, from our food system to our medical system are being challenged; we don’t know when this will end. And when it does, what our new world will look like?

Everyday, I find myself asking questions like, “How is our world forever changed? This seems like the kind of event that is fundamentally transformative to the core. What kind of new world will emerge from this? And, of course, as the owner of a travel company I’m wondering, “How will travel be transformed? And Is traveling still even relevant?

In reality, things are always constantly in a process of falling apart and coming together.

When things fall apart, they also come together. When there is a breakdown there is always a breakthrough. No matter how firm our footing feels underneath us, things are inherently unstable as they are. When I connect to the bigger vision of this, and the impermanence of everything, I actually feel some sense of security.

When I look at our world objectively, I move away from the fear and see just how many things actually need change - are begging for change - and it leaves me hopeful that a complete breakdown could actually birth a whole new world. I continually feel as if I’m teetering on the edge of terror and excitement: feeling the fear of the uncertainty, then breaking through to the possibility of hopefulness for what a new world could bring.

And there is beauty in this process, beauty in the natural order of things being as they are, constantly falling apart and coming together, constantly in a state of change. One beautiful piece of this experience that has certainly surfaced is the fact that we are all, truly, experiencing this together. Globally, we are one people. There is a kind of community in that, a power that we are not in alone, and we are all in this together.

I find some beauty in this in this shared experience - like we all have the same secret that we cannot tell.

I remember a few weeks ago a moment that I shared with a fellow human. I was fumbling around the gas pump. I didn’t have any gloves, or hand sanitizer and I was trying to make the choice of what material - the flesh of my hand or my sweater sleeve - would be the most benign tool for touching the payment screen. I remember reminding myself not to touch my face, and feeling a certain sense of neuroticism through the process, wondering if anyone was watching me fumble.

I stood by the hood of my car while the gas was pumping and I glanced over to the next lane and saw a man in his car, applying sanitizer to his hands. He looked up at me and our eyes met. We both smiled. I felt a connection with him - us both having the same secret, living through the same shared reality. We didn’t need words, our exchanges said it all.

This simple exchange was a reminder to me that no matter where you are living in the world right now, we are all truly one. The pandemic doesn’t discriminate.

We are all in this together and together and together - somehow - we will get to the other side.

Brockell Briddle

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