For me, a middle-aged mom, b-business marketer and hot-yoga addict, the parallels between the disease of our planet and the disease of our people are undeniable. Our bodies, collectively suffering, so much like our planet. What a metaphor.
Happy Birthday to Me
In mid-March, I celebrated my birthday in St. Lucia with my family and our close friends. We were tucked away, high in the hills of Gros Islet, boomeranging from total joy to a fear that slowly, heartbreakingly, grew from a distant hum to a drumbeat we wouldn’t escape. We watched from our acknowledgedly privileged position, talked strategy over breakfast and then inevitably drifted into the rhythm of island life. The photos we took tell the story of a fantasy island, temporarily sheltered from the coming tsunami.
The Mosh Pit
We left a day early when our Prime Minister called us home. We spent hours online and on the phone desperately trying to change flights. Our friend’s trip was the day before us, and we couldn’t bear the thought of separating. Our eventual repatriation to Canada was traumatic. Customs was a literal mosh pit of people arriving from everywhere, crammed into lines and using the self-serve kiosks to register their arrivals. There was no social distancing, no air flow, no sanitizer, no hope of not contracting the disease if it was indeed there. Yet people remained calm, polite, and the customs officer still asked what we had to declare. We said goodbye to our beloved friends and, on the advice of Ottawa Public Health, rolled down the windows of our car, and took the eerily quiet drive across Toronto to start our self-isolation.
Like a Dali
Our experience was generally no different than many of the half-million Canadians abroad over March Break. The transition to our home fueled by so many emotions – fear, resolve, peace, anger, tension, hope, and despair. Our beloved dogs were with my father and step-mother in Muskoka, so we met in a parking lot and did a surreal, distant exchange, the cold wind blowing our kisses away. They had generously brought us food (and wine), which we picked up, carefully avoiding each other as they dropped it in the chasm between our two cars, just a few days before even this would be deemed illegal by our government.
I started to feel unwell then. I was tired while driving. Not quite sure if it was the stress of the journey, the bizarre moment with my parents, or the terrifying disease. I still don’t know. The next day I managed to scrub the house and do a thousand loads of laundry. Our family cooked together that night, and dinner was delicious, more flavourful, more appreciated. Sleep was more difficult. I woke twice in a cold sweat, decided not to take my temperature until the morning and read until I fell back asleep.
On Sunday, we slept in; it was while making my bed that I felt the heaviness in my chest. In the kitchen over coffee, my husband told me about a post from a young woman suffering in Italy, warning us that this beast of an illness doesn’t only take the old. I took my coffee to our family room and sat alone, thinking. I googled “meditations for healthy lungs” and found Jasmuheen.
For the next twenty-two minutes, a stranger with an ethereal voice led me through one of the most emotional and powerful experiences of my life. As I sat on a cushion breathing, she talked about healing and the power to heal ourselves. I imagined a blinding golden light shining from within my body, filling my lungs with each breath. I imagined tiny fairies repairing my lung tissue, stitching cracks with golden thread. I felt a deep pink light descend into me moments before Jasmuheen asked me to “let in a violet light”. My breath was deeper now, and I could feel weakness in my breath, I accepted the weakness as the vibrant light gently washed my lungs clean, kindly instructing the disease to leave my body. There was no anger, no violence, no death, only healing. A moment later, Jasmuheen asked me to express love for my lungs and remember a time when they were healthy. I thought of my ten-year-old self jumping off the dock in Muskoka. I thought of the high white clouds and soft blue skies as I leapt into the air without a care in the world. I began to say sorry to my body, sorry to my lungs, sorry, sorry, sorry, as the meditation led me to do the same, as the pink light faded and a green light materialized in my mind’s eye, once again seconds before she asked me to let in healing green light. At this point, tears flowed down my cheeks, and my body was moving rhythmically with my breath, forward and backwards. My hands at heart centre, sending my body love, forgiving myself for all I’ve done to hurt it, bringing light and peace into each breath. I finished the meditation, breathing easily and feeling much healthier. The power of our mind and our spirit is genuinely infinite once we learn how or become willing to access it.
Says Jane Goodall
I believe it’s this spirit or power or energy or god or whatever you choose to call it that will help us transcend this tragic time and finally expose this indisputable connection between ourselves and everything else. The parallel between this disease, one that ravages our lungs, burns our bodies with fever and drowns our breath, and our diseased planet is impossible to ignore. An illness that is causing so much human suffering while simultaneously holding the potential to heal our environment through our reaction to it is astounding. As we mourn for what we have lost and what we are about to lose, we can also celebrate the lesson, the wisdom we gain and accept that the brutal treatment of our home is one possible cause of this pandemic. As Jane Goodall observed, as we encroach on animal habitats, they will encroach on us.
Despite the horrific news, the sacrifices we will make, the loss of life and the overwhelming fear we are all collectively living with, I can’t help but wonder if this is a wake-up call. We must shift back to what matters, family, friends, blue skies, clear water. We need to reconnect with each other from deep inside ourselves, put down our shields, our artifice, our Instagram profiles. We need to reconnect to our collective home. In the meantime, we will wait and watch, take the lessons, and survive.
Stay safe and healthy,
Self-Isolation Day 6