Good morning, dearest Pinkies. I was so pooped last night after a full day of answering questions from Pinkies, patients, and journalists about swine flu, trying to calm some of the media mass hysteria. Somehow, I let the swine flu scare suck me dry yesterday, and it was a good reminder that we all need to refill our proverbial cups regularly so we can continue to give back in love and service. Today, I’m going to continue to try to help you all, but I’m going to remember to nurture myself as well. I’m starting the day with a couple big glasses of green juice, and later, I’ll hike. But first, I want to share a few of my thoughts about swine flu and surrender.
Yesterday, I witnessed the panic many of us feel when a crisis comes our way, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a cancer diagnosis, or swine flu. When something bad happens, we grab onto it like a drowning woman clings to a lifeboat. I know I do this. When my father was dying, I tried to control it- to prevent his death, so I wouldn’t have to suffer. But what did that do? It only made me suffer more, since I can no more control his fate than I can control my own. Dad, on the other hand, surrendered it all, and he left this world in the most beautiful, peaceful way. When my marriage was falling apart, I grabbed onto the proverbial handle yet again, shaking it, screaming at it, trying to make it steer me back to a happy marriage. But yet again, it was not for me to say. Clinging to the handle only made me miserable- and really, it didn’t change the outcome one bit.
I get the feeling that’s how people are responding to swine flu. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in being prepared- just check out 13 Ways to Avoid Swine Flu. But there’s a fine line between preparedness and control-freaky panic. Don’t you realize that we don’t get to choose whether or not we get swine flu? That JABA (Jesus/Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Athena, etc) rules? If we cling to our own desire to avoid getting swine flu (or any other seemingly negative outcome), we only create suffering for ourselves? Why can’t we just go with the flow and trust that whatever outcome manifests is supposed to happen?
It’s tempting to pray that JABA will spare us all from an international pandemic. But what if we’re supposed to learn some greater lesson from this? What if we’ve become so broken by red state/blue stateness, gay marriage, economic collapse, and all the other polarizing politics of the past decade that we need to rally in order to heal this country on a more global scale? What if swine flu is destined to draw us back together into a country that connects, on a deeper level?
I don’t believe in a vindictive God, one who casts plagues and wars and natural disasters on us when we’re being bad. But I do believe that things happen for a reason- that life has purpose and isn’t just a series of accidents. What if swine flu is supposed to happen, if it’s somehow critical to our collective happiness? Who are we to say?
So here’s what I propose, Pinkies. Instead of panicking and rushing out to buy all the hand sanitizer from the drug store shelves and loading up on face masks, why not take a moment of silence and let this turn of events speak to your heart. What might you learn from swine flu? What fears does it bring up in you? How might you settle those fears? What could you surrender such that those fears dissipate? What would change in your life if you just let go of the things you cling to, trusting that life has purpose and that everything, even a swine flu pandemic, can teach us to be more whole?
What do you all think? Can you be a wee bit more zen about the swine flu thing? Be prepared, but let it go into the hands of the universe? One of the wise gurus of the Pink Posse, Jo Perron, who is a doctor/yoga instructor/way cool chick, once told me, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Whoa, Nelly!
Post your thoughts, please. I wanna hear.
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