I turned 66 last month and the last few lines of the poem Little Gidding by T S Eliot have been playing on my mind:
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.
On the surface it seems Eliot is writing about literal exploration, like trying to find the Northwest Passage or trekking the length of the Nile. But his words have a deeper meaning.
I’ve spent the last 66 years in ceaseless exploration. I’ve been exploring the metaphoric peaks (graduations), valleys (miscarriages), rivers (love) and caves (introspection) of my life. My explorations have been packed with daily tasks and long-term plans, and I’ve kept a mental record of what I’ve done and the people I’ve met. And like the Silk Road explorer Marco Polo, I tell tales of what I’ve seen and heard, to enthrall the world with my progress.
And now, after all these years of exploring, I come across an unexpected giant landmass called COVID-19. Its rocky shores almost wreck my ship. I navigate it carefully, probe its length and breadth, search for inlets, and keep a sharp eye out for things I need to understand to keep safe.
A world view of Eliot’s words is that after we’ve all explored COVID-19 and gotten back to where we were before it all started, that world won’t seem the same as what we remember it being.
Because we’ll see our previous existence through new eyes.
Life always changes us.
And dramatic events change us dramatically.
I guess Eliot was saying there’s never any going back.
Living with mindfulness
Eckhart Tolle says this worldwide experience is forcing us to step into stillness.
We can’t go wherever we please, on a whim. We can’t lose ourselves in mass gatherings or stimulating vacations. We can’t party or fly away from it all. We have to stay where we are. Explore our own microcosm.
This enforced stillness gives us space to reassess our core values and find a way forward that is richer and more meaningful than what we had before. We’re being offered a chance to move from a world of division to one of unity, from separation to oneness.
To see ourselves, and the world, anew.
If this is the ultimate outcome of the virus, it will have been worth it.
With love, Marlane
First published on Medium.com/Illumination