I hugged my teenage daughter goodbye on Saturday evening, as she was about to catch her ride to a friends birthday party and said, “be careful, don’t kiss anyone and be aware of your orifices!” It came out all wrong, I would never normally have been so callous. In any other age it would have been interpreted differently but suddenly we were in the time of the Corona Virus and that is all we have on our minds. She was the one who had told me the information she had learned at school about how the Corona Virus spreads: “If you get a germ, which may get onto your hand, then when you touch one of your orifices, it gets into your system.” (This is why we must wash our hands often and be careful not to kiss anyone, and not touch our mouths or noses, etc.”)
The Corona Virus became a reality in our neighbourhood on Friday the 13th in Cape Town. It swept in with the first cold front of the changing season. I have to admit, I have been feeling quite unwell since the news sank in and caught hold, a kind of obsession with the news and a state of mild panic. The mild panic could have been the cause of feeling unwell but the feeling made me wonder if I already had the virus, which spun me a little further into a kind to tired overwhelmed funk. I say that it became our reality on Friday. That was the day we got the news through WhatsApp that 8 Cape Town schools were closing. That was the day we gingerly went to our local supermarket and were afraid to touch anything and then went to look for some hand sanitizer only to find an empty shelf. The gloomy empty shelf, with its absence of hand sanitizer, seemed a sign of the times in the dark supermarket that morning. The supermarket was dark because of the “Loadshedding.” (Rolling blackouts) We are used to a fair amount of system failure already, having navigated the drought and the threat of having our water cut off last year, so by now, we know how to sidestep these daily inconveniences. We are survivors of a toppling system, we are not too phased anymore, we roll with the punches..
Before Friday the 13th of March, the news of the Coronavirus was a fascinating, scary phenomenon that was happening elsewhere. Now it was right on our doorstep, a whole new reality we had to cope with on top of everything else. It was a shock and it took my breath away. So many decisions and uncertainty’s seemed to follow in the wake of this massive dark wave that had engulfed us. Health is a fragile thing. We all have our family members with fragilities. Our income has never been very secure, but now we had to rethink everything, being freelancers working in the arts and entertainment.’
On Sunday night our president announced that South Africa is now in a state of “Disaster.” not to be confused with a state of “Emergency. “A State of Emergency” is what we were put under in the final apartheid years, as the old regime began to topple. This State of Disaster is different. It has it’s own set of policies. The weird thing is it’s a disaster that hasn’t happened, it’s a disaster that’s predicted to happen so we are all sitting biting our nails. Travel is limited. All the schools and universities have been closed. Many will have no income and there is no compensation. The majority of South African’s can’t even go rushing round stockpiling food and toilet paper, as we have no savings in the first place. Yet it’s the best solution for slowing the infection rate. Our president knows what a vulnerable population we have in the dense ghetto’s where water and sanitation is already lacking. We have learned the lessons of the Spanish flu. Restricting movement is a sensible thing to do. His speech was articulate and clear. Cyril Rhamaposa reminded me of Winston Churchill in his calm delivery in the time of crisis.
After spending the morning cleaning the house, and the doorknobs and light switches and door frames and all the surfaces with more and more painstaking paranoia, I felt even more tired and under the weather. I felt a strange kind of heat in my body. (Could it be Menopause? Or do I have a temperature? How do you tell if it’s the virus?) I tried Googling the symptoms and how to get tested. Not much came up about what to do in this country. In other countries, it looked quite straight forward, but no information came up for South Africa. (I have found out since then that it’s quite hard to get tested, even if you have *medical aid. The symptoms are so much like flu, that my research did not bring satisfying answers and the uncertainty was not eased.) I have since heard from a Swiss neighbour, who enquired by phone to 3 government hospitals about going for testing and was told to stay home and self-quarantine for 2 weeks and call again if symptoms persisted. There is a hotline number to call if you are feeling the symptoms, I found out later from a friend. It’s 080002999. And there is info on this website: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
I decided to get away from it all and took my dog for a walk down to the ocean. It was a beautiful still day, although there were signs of weather approaching on the horizon. I just wanted to clear all of this heavy stressed energy off me, to cleanse myself of it. So I asked the ocean to take it from me. I waded in and swam, (I didn’t have my swimming costume but I knew my cotton dress would dry quickly) and walked home feeling much better in time to meet a friend for tea.
This state of limbo and fearful suspense of a certain approaching doom gives people who like to feel in control of their world a real wobble. As I chatted to my friend Sunanda over a few cups of tea, I realized so many things about my fear reaction. I realise that as one who likes to feel in control, I make everything feel more manageable by trying to predict what is going to happen. I know I am not alone in these responses. There are many others, who are also finding ways to feel a bit less vulnerable and wobbly on social media. They too are coming up with predictions of how things may look as a result of this new development as a way to try and take their power back, and feel better. Not everything they say is factual, we know that, but it’s more noise. We just need to be quiet.
Another reason this Corona Virus story is setting off such fear is that we have never seen such a huge governmental system shut down occur over an illness. It is very disconcerting, especially for the elderly and those who are living with chronic health problems. Those are the ones who have tactlessly been told they are in the endangered category. It is a nightmare for them, living with all the other challenges of old age, and the memory of the Spanish flu too. (Everybody might lose somebody. That’s a dreadful thought. Of course, it’s always been that way, but when it is announced by an authority we begin to believe that it is an imminent truth.) The system is being shut down to contain the spread of the Coronavirus we are told. What is strange is that this disease is getting such special treatment, even though it has a much lower mortality rate than other causes of death people are facing such as TB, AIDs, Cancer, Malaria, dysentery, diabetes, malnutrition. It seems this one is causing a paradigm shift because it is much harder to control because it’s so contagious. It’s like a wild beast that has escaped from the Zoo. (We understand that Corona, in fact, is a zoo- a -logical virus which jumped into humans from Bats and into Pangolins and thereby hangs a very interesting tale! And a lesson to humans not to treat innocent creatures on the edge of extinction with such contempt.)
So there are borders closing and we are told to lock ourselves into our houses and batten down the hatches as the storm approaches. This is the strategy of social distancing as a means to “flatten the curve” of the graph of new infections. The graph looks like a wave, a very steep one, a wave that looks like a bit like a tsunami. We are told not to meet in groups of more than 100. No more protest marches. No more rebellions. No more group therapy in the form of sports, music, festivals, parties. It is definitely easier to control individuals when they are scattered.
As a doomsday predictor, I have always had an issue with tsunamis. I live near the ocean in a very risky location at only 3 metres above sea level, and tsunamis have come in my dreams for decades. I have had many vivid apocalyptic dreams of waves washing us into a new reality. I have always said I would surf the wave when it comes, even though I am not a real surfer. (My husband is.) I believed I would float, I am a good swimmer. This is it. It’s happening, it’s essential to surf this if one wants to be a survivor. Surfing requires balance, patience and courage. So we have to catch a grip on our fear, and that’s a challenge.
The news of the virus is very destabilizing, one begins to fear for our lives and the lives of our loved ones. It’s enough to make anyone feel ill straight away. However, once I had my swim in the sea I felt I could push back a little. I realized I had been in the grip of the concept of the virus and all the obsessive imaginings that come with it. Allowing that to happen was to be swept off my feet and dumped by the wave. If I had continued to feel so frightened and obsessed with it, I would probably have manifested the virus, even psychosomatically. I was already feeling the symptoms because that is what I was concentrating my attention on. (There are theories that this virus is a man-made invention with the purpose of gaining control of the population in a new world order. That is a fearful theory too. When we give our energy to these thoughts, we lose our own autonomy. If one wants to rise above this, the only way is to break the cycle of fear.) We have to get down to earth and real and look at the big picture.
It was interesting to note how clearing myself in the cold water of the real ocean broke the energy drain of the mild panic I had been experiencing. This sealed my energy field and I felt my power return. (If you don’t have an ocean, go for a walk or plant a seed in a pot on your window ledge.) Home and dry with a cup of tea and a friend under a tree, I found the silver lining and there are quite a few blessings to be found beyond the doom of what is approaching.
Here is a survivors todo list for the time of the Coronavirus.
1. Don’t panic- find awareness. One’s awareness doesn’t have to stay in the realm of uneasiness about ill-health. We can choose to take back our health and become aware of how we look after ourselves. This is going to force us to become much more aware, conscious and mindful at all times of what we do with our hands, what we touch, what we eat, what we drink, what we smoke, who we share with. This creates consciousness, and it does not have to be paranoia or obsessive-compulsive behaviour, it should be done in the spirit of self-love. It’s basic hygiene. We have to do it anyway. We must watch how we spend our precious energy. If we want to survive, we must value our life force enough to treat it with respect.
2. Turn your fear of loss and lack into a new kind of richness: Become fully present. We automatically value each other more, when we no longer take each other for granted. This is an opportunity to become more present and aware with each person you meet. As we face the fear of our own death, we realize that every person we meet and interact with could be facing death too. Be aware of what you say to them, the language you use. Engage fully and lovingly with each person. This may sound very fateful, but actually, it’s how we should be with each other all the time. It’s a way of being that raises our capacity to be more in our power and make decisions for the highest good and to nurture each other properly. It is how we live our lives more richly. We are not dying with each other, we are living properly with each other, but the possibility of dying makes the living more real, more authentic, and therefore richer. Honour the people around you. Find your community. This is how it is anyway, the Coronavirus just makes us more aware.
3. Clear out the old and create the new: It’s time to tie up ends, find completion and clear out all that I no longer need in my space. If this is the end, at least leave a finished story or let it go. This lockdown is a chance to shift one’s space and clear out the old stories, the old beliefs, it a chance to evolve beyond them in order to make space for more important creative things. This is happening quickly on so many levels, from the interpersonal to the larger collective field.
4. The social isolation strategy is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills, develop the ones you have. Grow your real life, the one you actually want to live. Nurture your favourite past times. Allow yourself the space you have been wishing for to finish old projects. This is a time of manifestation. We can fall into the fear of catching and dying from the virus, or one can focus on creating something you have always wanted to create. One can decide to manifest a completely alternative reality from the one that is being created by the doomsday stories.
5. Overcome the fear of lack on a personal level and move into a collective abundance. A big fear for everyone, right now is that the economy is taking a knock. We also know that the way the economy works is not sustainable for the planet. This Pandemic may have caused our clients to disappear and our income to dry up. So we have to be creative to survive. On the upside, we may have been caught in a rut doing something which didn’t serve us but it was all we knew. Now is the time to find something much more relevant and meaningful, that actually furthers a positive cause. Something that actually makes a difference to the whole picture. We can find something with purpose that may help turn the tide so that we can live more abundantly again in the future instead of living beyond our means in a debt-based economy.
6. It”s time to get back to the garden and in doing so find true community and return to the old ways of living. This may sound very radical, but how about joining a restoration camp to help restore an ecosystem? https://ecosystemrestorationcamps.org/foundation/ (More about this in my next blog. Watch this space.). There will be a lot to be done locally in our neighbourhoods. We know this. Community volunteering will be essential.
7. Pause and reflect: Time to re-assess our actions as a species. Celebrate the positive aspects of the crisis. Mother Nature has begun a bit of a fever as a result of the ice caps melting, the forests burning and the way mankind has made war on the earth through industrialized agriculture and fishing for massive supply chains. (All the mono-crops sprayed with poisons, the GMO’s, the feedlots for heaving with factory-farmed unhappy animals, and the wicked “game” of poaching wild rare species as trophies for big money, because the rarer they are, the more valuable.) The Coronavirus is the result of this trade as I understand it. The Pangolins in the market at Wuhan and others like it transmitted it to humans from bats, the Pangolins got the virus too, while humans kept them in cages to sell for a huge profit. This dreadful bug came out of a system, which is out of balance due to seriously unhealthy circumstances. So it has not come out of nowhere. (We all knew we were going to be facing serious consequences for just carrying on doing the same thing despite all the warnings.) So at last, here is something speaks loudly enough to those who are deaf to all the other forms of protest. There is finally a ban on the sale of wildlife in China. This may mean that the Rhino, the Elephant, the Pangolin, and many more precious wild species have a chance to recuperate. This may curb the extinction taking place among the other creatures on the planet. This is push back time, and we can either fight or flow with it. So we must flow and allow ourselves to be guided to do what is best for the highest good of all and not just ourselves. This is how we can transform our reality to one that is a little closer to paradise. Stopping the traffic has already cleared the air and the waters in some places. The animals are coming back.
8. Practice conscious breathing: Pranayama, Shamanic Breathwork, yoga breathing techniques all help one focus on the breath as a means of clearing one’s energy field and energizing oneself. One can learn some of these skills by joining this breathwork summit run by the Shift network or something similar. If one can practice these tools every day, one can build up strength and be in a better position to resist the virus and perhaps also have one’s lungs in a better state of health so that if it comes your way, you don’t get as badly affected. One can’t go wrong with a daily breathing and meditation practice, it helps one still the mind and gains perspective. It allows you to clear away the fears and be calm and carry on. On the macro-scale, it is clear that the lockdown response to curbing the virus is allowing the planet to breathe too. It may sound far fetched, but what if the suffocation of the earth’s atmosphere on the macro-cosmic level due to pollution has manifested a virus on the micro-cosmic level of the earth’s energy field that causes suffocation? The response to the diagnosis has indirectly given the environment a chance to breathe and it has made a big difference in places like China, where some of the smog has cleared they say. It feels connected, we have to work with that to heal ourselves and heal the collective.
9. Remember the old ways and get back to nature. They say there is no cure, but that’s because they haven’t found an allopathic vaccine. We still have all those old remedies for coughs and colds and they would most definitely help the symptoms. One powerful remedy many have forgotten is to use herbs like pelargonium, lavender, and eucalyptus, Wilde Else and the like to steam your chest. Pick them and crush them between your hands, thank them and cook them up in a pot. Then put the pot on a table and sit with your head over the pot and a few towels over your head and the pot so that no steam escapes. Breathe in the steam and allow it to clear your chest. Take your vitamin C and of course, eat healthy food and before you eat it, bless it and bless the soil it came from.
10. Write down your own list of blessings for your life that has come from this new wave that is sweeping the earth. Get back to the source of all life. Walk on the earth every day. List the things you are grateful for and enjoy your time out.