Waking Up from a Long Slumber in the Midst of an Existential Crisis ll Dorothy Wallis

The shut down of the world came as a surprise.  Did you even imagine that it would be possible for nearly 7 billion people to stop their ‘normal’ activities and go into seclusion?  In my part of the world the retreat began in March.  I was suddenly thrust into an alternate reality.  But it took time for me to comprehend the change.  

March 2020

My daughter has come to stay for a week.  She needs a respite to heal from a car accident.  It is a blessing for me.  Happily, a respite for her means working together on projects.  My back deck is now a haven to enjoy with colorful flowerpots, fresh herbs, an umbrella covered table nestled in one corner, and a grill.  Working together we have hauled flagstone and hand built tiered garden beds, dug the clay, filled it with compost and planted vegetables and herbs. 

Most news I receive is by email.  What seemed like a far away concern has now become a serious issue.  The coronavirus is causing a world wide ‘shut down.’  We are advised to ‘stay at home’ and wear masks when going out.  Stores and restaurants are closing down, flying is precarious and so my daughter decides to stay a bit longer.  Bags of frozen fish, canned goods, and cleaning supplies are added to my shopping list to shorten trips to the store.

My refrigerator terminates and we salvage what food we can in a couple of coolers in the garage.  Rats, I just filled up my frozen section!  What a time to have it go out.  It is a couple of weeks without refrigeration before I find a business that is willing to come inside and install a new refrigerator.  Within minutes of the new one being stocked my garbage disposal goes out.  Leaking from the bottom an inch deep of water covers the floor of the cabinet.  It has to be fixed pronto in order to use the kitchen sink.  My patience pays off after a masked trip to Home Depot waiting in long lines and talking with four different service personnel trying to figure out how to give me a refund for an unneeded refrigerator part while my daughter retrieves the new disposal.  With her strong arms and ingenuity, she has it fixed and the house is humming once again.  

Every day there is more news about the novel virus spreading and I hear people having trouble with feelings of isolation with the ‘stay at home’ order.  For me, nothing has slowed down.  There are waves upon waves of situations popping up that need prompt attention.  

April 2020

My cousin is in the hospital with Covid-19.  I learn that he came down with a high fever and within the week he is in the hospital on a ventilator.  So much about his condition and the virus is unknown.  I hear some good news from his sister.  It is a little over a week since he has been in the hospital and his oxygen and CO2 levels, blood work and organ functioning are normal.  The sedatives have been lowered and he opens his eyes.  They want to take him off of the ventilator but his breathing is not sufficient.  His sister tells me one day his vitals are up and the next day they are down.  His sisters and family are experiencing grief and pain not only because of worrying about his condition but also at not being allowed to be with him.  The doctors are doing their best to figure out what treatments to give him.  He has been given hydroxychloroquine and plasma from recovered patients.  His condition suddenly worsens.  He is not waking up.  We prayed and were hopeful. Within three weeks, he has expired.  It all seems to have happened so fast.  The doctors and nurses caring for my cousin have come to know him.  They make an exception and benevolently allow his wife and son to say good-bye as they remove the ventilator.

The strangeness of this virus is incomprehensible.  My heart is heavy and weeps for my cousin, his wife and son and his sisters.  A beautiful gentle soul, he is no longer with us.  

May 2020 

Reality has become surreal.  Each day there are more stories about the spread of the virus, the precautions to take, the empty shelves and people stocking up on essentials.  I plan my outings so that I don’t need to go very often.  The recreation center has been closed.  Restaurants are taking a beating with some closing for good.  My book club has gone to Zoom meetings as has my office.  Other groups are not meeting at all.  It is quieter….everywhere. 

For the moment, the quiet does not disturb me.  I see how others are struggling and hear about all of the deaths.  It is so hard for the families not being able to be with their loved ones as they go through this illness or to be with them as they pass.  It gives me a greater appreciation for the safe enclave where I live and what I have.  My heart reaches out to give solace, hope and care.

I’m observing the reactions of people and have been asked to do a podcast on the effects the shutdown and fears of Covid-19 are having on people.  The fears are more than the virus.  People are dividing depending upon their fears, beliefs and values.  The situation is shining a lens on whatever fears and beliefs have been hidden.  Some people are concerned about getting the virus or unknowingly giving it to someone else.  Others are concerned that their freedoms are being impinged upon.  Whatever is valued most is being unhinged.

There is an ominous foreshadowing as the fear spreads.  Tensions are rising.  It is as though the world has succumbed to a thick sickening green pallor, a ubiquitous deep silence is enveloping and blanketing consciousness.  It is the stillness before hail pellets drop and the furious swirling funnel of turbulence rips and tears at the earth and psyche of humanity.  

June 2020

On May 25th George Floyd dies at the knee of a policeman.  Fury is unleashed in citizens all over the world at injustice.  Marches assemble and groups protest.  Chaos intensifies.  Consciousness is raised and focused on rectifying the discrimination that black and minority groups have endured.  The Black Lives Matter movement is far reaching and aims to bring liberty, justice, and freedom for black lives.  There is push back against the movement and against the police.  Some take it upon themselves to instigate violence.  Divisions and sides are taken with blame being projected in all directions. 

Disagreements between friends and families cause ruptures in relationships.  It might be about how to deal with the virus, or the protests, or the economy, or corruption or what the heck is the truth.  What one person holds as a value or sees as a truth is at odds with others.  It is surprising to feel the enormous animosity and anger when a person’s intrinsic safety, beliefs, values and way of life are confronted.

July & August 2020 

As if the virus, the protests, the loss of jobs and businesses are not stressful enough another existential challenge faces us.  Fires, floods, hurricanes of immense magnitude and derechos strike one after another causing the loss of homes, beloved forests, property, crops and the livelihood of many.  The destruction and tearing down of the stability and structures that have been relied upon is unfathomable.  With millions of people out of a job, people isolated and confined, or homeless the rate of anxiety, depression and suicides has increased.  A pervasive hopelessness ensues.  

It does not matter what strata of society one comes from, this sense of despair and uncertainty is affecting people from all walks of life.  Michelle Obama spoke about how her sleep has been off and how she goes through periods of emotional highs and lows where she just doesn’t feel like herself.  She described it as a form of “low-grade depression.”  She expressed her anguish at witnessing the enormity of racial injustice and the effects of the virus on all levels of people’s lives.  As any one of us suffers, we all suffer.  

An Existential Wake-Up Call

Depression is an energy that stops you cold, in your tracks.  When it does, it is a call to wake up and see what is happening around you.  Humanity is experiencing an existential crisis.  It is the feeling that one’s very existence is threatened.  At the fundamental core of your psyche, you feel the shakiness and fragility of being human.  With so many forces creating instability, chaos and change, it is impossible to not be affected in some way.

The existence we once knew is no longer.  We have exploited the resources of the earth by opening up gaping holes, tearing down mountains, destroying land and water supplies with little thought to the consequences.  We have been using toxic chemicals to wipe out insects, poisoning the land and water and in turn are poisoning ourselves.  People are sick.  Their immune systems are suffering.  We have lost our relationship to the creatures and elements of the earth.  We have upset the natural balance and the interdependence of life that we depend on.    

Sadly, we have forgotten our kindred relationship to each other, to our fellow humans.  Relationships are suffering.  We have forgotten how to care and support one another in our striving for independence and the determination to be rich and successful at all costs.  It is Costing us Greatly.  It may cost us our very existence.

It is right to be depressed because that energy, which slows you down says, “Look around you, look inside of yourself, something is out of kilter.”  The time is up for self-interest that includes heartless detachment, prejudice, discrimination, greed, hatred and careless unmitigated derision of resources and people.  

Fear is at the core of survival.  What is your relationship with fear?  Our mode has been to resist it, fight it, suppress it and run away from it.  It is in resisting it rather than meeting it with understanding that creates the destruction we are engaged with.  When you sit with your fear, what does it speak about?  What can you learn from it?  How do you react to it?  Learning about your fear will tell you much about your relationship to life.  

Yes, these are challenging and pretty scary times.  I look back on March and see how the wee problems that occurred in my life are simple and easy to solve.  The larger ones are upon all of us now.  It calls for us to reach out to one another no matter what another’s values are or the culture they have come from.  Learn about the people around you.  What challenges and fears do they have?  What do they care about?  What do you care about?  Find the higher aspects of yourself.  Face your fears with compassionate care.  

We are all waking up from a very long slumber.  Our fears have been driving us over the edge.  A portal of opportunity has opened for us to look deeply within and realize that fear is not an enemy.  It is here to help us survive.  It does not need to control us nor destroy us.  

As you get familiar with the driving scared parts of yourself and relate to them it opens up other health giving vital aspects that have been waiting to arise.  Beautiful expressions of calm, caring, friendly, loving, confident, wise, creative and playful facets are allowed to emerge.  

Can you imagine what happens when you allow these parts of yourself to express?  Can you imagine what it feels like to be in harmony with people and in balance with nature?  Crossing this threshold takes you into a new wondrous dimension.  You can do it if you want to.  It starts with befriending your fears.

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com