“We learn more in crisis than in comfort.” – Abhijit Naskar, writer
“Her family was in a COVID-19 induced chaos.”
We are all being challenged by nature to be ‘present’ during and with this crisis. Presence is defined as “a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness.
Presence can be observed in some past and current public figures such as: Nelson Mandella, Steven Lewis, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama and many others.
Presence is displayed in at least three specific forms: a prevailing attitude of gratitude; a certainty of self; and an equal appreciation of both the pleasure and the pain of one’s life…it’s inherent love!
Presence is what Sonya brought to my monitor on the day of her first online consultation. Sonya was just eleven years old and being bullied at school. Her family was in a COVID-19 induced chaos.
She had two night-shift working parents who were health providers and two teenage sisters whose only interests, according to Sonya, seemed to be their popularity and playing sports.
“I need to learn to deal with my anxiety.”
Sonya was cute in appearance, of average height with short blond hair, blue eyes and a perky nose. And, she projected a calm stare, a piercing look of scrutiny or observation that one might mistake for aloofness. Instead, it really masked a quick intellect, a gentle spirit and a surprising range of interests, given her short time on the planet.
Sonya told me her two hobbies were watching Canadian politics and the stock market. She said she despised and pitied her bullies because they showed such a low level of awareness of how the world really worked.
When I asked her how I might serve her, she replied
“I need to learn to deal with my anxiety.”
So, I responded with,
“Sonya, what are your top three sources of anxiety?”
“That’s easy, first getting bullied at school and second, my ‘crazy’ family!”
“And, the third….?” I asked.
She paused and then said, nonchalantly…yet not,
“That would be…Why are we here?”
“Why would we have a pandemic…now?”
“Sonya, do you mean, like here me in my office and you at home right now or do you mean instead, like on the planet earth or perhaps, in this universe?” I said, my surprise lifting my voice that I could hear clearly and displayed, undoubtedly on my face, that I couldn’t.
“I’m referring more to a planetary or perhaps the cosmological angle.” she said.
“Tell me more, Sonya.”
“Why would we have a pandemic…now? What did we do to deserve this? Is this because we are screwing up the planet? And, how do we get out of it?”
“I suspect those questions are being asked by many people on earth today, Sonya? But, why are you asking them? Is the most important question, the first one you asked…’Why are we here?’”
“Yes, I guess it is actually.” she replied, thoughtfully.
“…your question is one of life’s four most basic questions.”
“Well, maybe if you uncover an answer for it, that will also answer the others about our current pandemic?” I suggested.
“Maybe…?” Sonya replied.
“Well, let’s start there, then and see what we can find. OK?”
“Before we start, I want you to notice your question is one of life’s four most basic questions. And, they have motivated all human systems of thinking whether it is a culture, a political party, a school of philosophy, a religion or a country.”
“Are you saying there are three other questions like that…that are similar to my question, Ken?”
“Yes, the other three are: Where did we come from?; Where are we going?; and Who are we? Our awareness and ability to ask these four questions is part of what makes us uniquely human.”
Then I added,
“I can only offer you ideas…ideas collected from my own research. They may be useful or not. You will get to decide…not me! Are you OK with that, Sonya?”
“Sounds interesting to me…and fair, Ken!” she replied.
“…COVID-19 is a natural phenomenon and doing what it is supposed to do?”
“I will use primarily the hard sciences as references…physics, chemistry, astronomy, cosmology, evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology because they are based on verifiable information which has been demonstrated repeatedly in the past.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Let’s start with some evolutionary biology. The purpose of every living organism is to serve its species by reproducing…spreading its genetic information…that’s what the COVID-19 virus is doing.”
“So, COVID-19 is a natural phenomenon and doing what it is supposed to do?”
“Yes it is, Sonya.” I said. “And, our body is constantly dealing with new viruses by developing defenses against them. Each of us has that ability. But, each person has their own unique system and history.”
“…every person’s body has to have their own battle with COVID-19.”
“So, every person’s body has to have their own battle with COVID-19. Is that what you mean, Ken?”
“Exactly! And, some people, especially the elderly and others with a weaker immune system related to some other medical condition, may need medical assistance to deal with this particular virus.”
“So, some people won’t be able to overcome this virus and some will.”
“Exactly! We need to make sure our health services are ready…for the number of people who will need assistance, and when they need it.
“So, all these new things we are doing like washing our hands, self-isolating and social distancing are to manage the spread and minimize the death toll, because we really can’t stop it, right?.”
“…drives our mind…to focus on what’s most important to us.”
“We may be able to stop it with a vaccine, but we don’t have one, as yet. So, people will die and continue to do so until we understand this virus better and are able to develop new tools to meet it.” I offered.
“It makes things really scary for everyone, doesn’t it?” she asked.
“It certainly does Sonya. It challenges us at a very fundamental level and drives our mind…our thinking, to focus on what’s most important to us.”
“But, how do I know what is most important to me at this point?”
“That is my job, Sonya. I help my clients uncover their path, their power and their purpose…but they have to be willing!”
“What do you mean by my purpose, Ken?”
“What about the dirt on our rug? What purpose does it serve…”.
“Look round the room you are sitting in at home for a minute. Can you find anything that doesn’t have a purpose or a function…anything at all?”
She looked around her den, staring at various objects, her eyes lighting on one and then moving to another as she recognized what it was for or what it was doing where it sat in her den at home.
Finally, her eyes settled on the rug on the floor,
“What about the dirt on our rug? What purpose does it serve…it’s just dirt off my family’s shoes, isn’t it?” she asked, a small delight in her voice.
“…less opportunity to contribute to your family, and perhaps feel less appreciated…”
“If that dirt didn’t collect there, and lots of other places in your home, then, whoever cleans it, wouldn’t have a job to do regularly. Who does the cleaning of your den, Sonya?”
“That’s actually my oldest sister Sally’s job every Saturday. She has to vacuum it.” she said.
“And, if the dust and dirt didn’t collect, would Sally have less opportunity to contribute to your family, and perhaps feel less appreciated for her role in helping your family function? Can you see that, Sonya?”
“Are you saying that vacuuming the dust and dirt help Sally feel valuable to her own family, Ken?”
“What do you think?”
“I missed that entirely, but I get it now. Sally gets to feel part of our family because she contributes to it by vacuuming. I know my job is loading the dishwasher after supper and it does help me feel like I’m doing my share of making our family work.”
“…they are ‘the rules of this game’ we call life, this natural world in which we inhabit.”
Then she added,
“The dust and dirt is like people’s stress. You make a living from people needing to learn to manage their stress, right? So, even our stress serves us…my stress serves me!” she said, insightfully.
“You got the idea now!” I said, smiling at her innate wisdom and ability to run with the idea to other examples, so quickly. She was a quick study!
“So, you can help me find my purpose and power…is that what you are saying, Ken?”
“If you are prepared to work with me, I have the tools to assist you to uncover your purpose and the ways you can empower yourself to achieve it. Are you willing to go on this journey, Sonya?”
“Indeed I am, Ken! How do we get started?”
“We start with a quick review of some of the basic laws or principles of nature.” I said.
“Why do we start there, Ken?”
“Because they are ‘the rules of this game’ we call life, this natural world in which we inhabit. Then, we uncover your highest personal values.”
“…your purpose is what motivates you forward and ties your whole life together in an understandable manner.”
“Why are my values important to know?”
“Because they are your tool box for building your future. Next, your life purpose is uncovered!” I said.
“Why do I need to know my purpose?”
“Because, your purpose is what motivates you forward and ties your whole life together in an understandable manner.” I suggested.
“You make it sound like pieces of a puzzle, Ken.”
“That is a wise metaphor for what is going on. It has been called a ‘perfect puzzle.’”
Then I added,
“Finally, we script out an 18 month specific plan for what you need to do, to be who you need to be, so you can have, what you need to have.”
“Do you mean I’m going to kind of design my own destiny…?”
“That’s exactly what you’re going to do, Sonya! Ready to get started?”
“….she valued and believed in herself enough to meet with me!”
“Let’s do it!” She said, smiling and leaning forward in her chair enthusiastically.
So we have begun. At our next session, I will guide Sonya through 7 questions that will help her to identify her purpose. She went home with 13 questions to assist her to uncover her top four highest values.
When she returns, we will use both to enable her to manage, not just Covid-19, but also, her family and being bullied and her future, with that presence she brought with her….gratitude, certainty and love!
She has already taken the first and hardest step to designing her own future…she valued and believed in herself enough to meet with me!
I will keep you posted on her progress!
I appreciate your thoughts and comments.
“Humans are going through a global challenge, but whether we look at it as a crisis or as an opportunity
to reshape our thinking and our future, depends on each of us. What if it is both?” – King Ayles, writer