I’m sick and tired of having to deal with the Coronavirus, and I want to get on with my life. I believe in science, and I listen to the experts, but I am not going to put my life on hold trying to protect myself from some little organism I can’t even see. I don’t want to live in fear. Someday I am going to die, but as long as I’m alive, I’m going to live fully. Here’s my plan, and I invite anyone who would like to join me to come along.
There is only one rule. Starting today I am going to make my decisions based on love, not fear. Many years ago, my wife, Carlin, volunteered with the Center for Attitudinal Healing and brought home a copy of the book, Love is Letting Go of Fear, by the director of the center Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D. My first act of love today was to take out my copy of the book and share Jerry’s words:
Fear always distorts our perception and confuses us as to what is going on. Love is the total absence of fear.
Dr. Jampolsky had to overcome his own life-long fear in order to even attempt to write the book.
Dyslexic since childhood, I entered the University of California at Berkeley knowing that a ‘dumbbell English course was in my future. I struggled through it and received a D, and on the final day of class my professor said to me, ‘Jampolsky, I don’t know what you’re going to do in life, but for God’s sake, don’t ever try to write a book.’
Love is Letting Go of Fear has sold more than 5 million copies and touched the lives of people throughout the world, including the musician, Carlos Santana, who wrote a foreword to the 2011 edition. “Love is Letting Go of Fear is the sweetest, gentlest healing melody to my heart,” said Santana. “Its principles have had a profound effect on me. It has influenced how I see and hold myself, how I conduct my relationships with others, and how I look at the world.”
So, following this one simple rule to make my decisions based on love, not fear, my plan for this winter, beginning today, includes the following:
1. Quiet my busy mind.
When I look at nature, the birds and bees, plants, and trees, everything is slowing down and getting quiet. Every year beginning with Halloween, I start revving up. Candy or no candy for the kids…and so it begins. Then, decisions about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, then New Year’s resolutions, and making promises I rarely keep. Starting today, I will spend more quiet time, not in fear or denial, but in love and gratitude for the gift of being alive.
2. Improve my physical and emotional health.
I often get sick in the winter. Early this year, in January and again in March, I got sick with pneumonia. This winter, I plan to love myself to health. I’m going to eat well and exercise even when I don’t feel like it. I will take warm baths with scented bath oils and feel very manly while I do it. I’m going to increase my lung capacity by walking up the hill in back of our house.
I’m going to smile more and sing the little ditty I heard, which was written by a teacher in Australia, Allison Davies, to help herself and her children get through the pandemic. It’s called “Every Little Cell in My Body is Happy.” I love it. Instead of focusing on all the things I can be afraid of this winter, I’m going to focus on all the things I can do to stay healthy.
3. Get to know and understand the virus.
My undergraduate studies were in biology, I attended medical school before later getting my Ph.D. in International Health, and I know that viruses are part of life. Yet, I have learned to fear the Coronavirus because I’ve come to see it as a malevolent force that is out to kill those I love. I have already begun to read some books that are giving me a different understanding of the Coronavirus.
Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer who has been writing some of the most important and helpful articles about the Coronavirus. In his book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, he says that all of us have microbes living within us, including bacteria and viruses. When Orson Welles said, “We’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone,” he was mistaken. Ed Yong says, “In fact, we are legion, each and every one of us. Always a ‘we’ and never a ‘me.’ Forget Orson Welles, and heed Walt Whitman: ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’”
If you want to get a feel for the wisdom of Ed Yong, listen to his 13 minute TED talk seen by nearly 2 million of our fellow humans, and learn some secrets that will challenge and delight you.
I wrote an article, “If the Coronavirus Could Talk What Would It Say and Would We Listen.” Viruses have been on the planet for 3.5 billion years. Humans have been here a mere 200,000 years. I figure there may be a lot I could learn from them.
4. Stop listening to those promoting fear.
We can’t watch T.V., read a newspaper, or go on social media without being inundated by people sharing their fears. In the news world, there is a saying “If it bleeds, it leads.” Fearful stories get our attention and that’s good for business but bad for our emotional and physical health. Starting today, I’m cutting back on the fearful media that seeks to grab my attention.
5. Listen more to a few experts I trust.
There are a lot of people who have said a lot of things about the Coronavirus and what we should do to protect ourselves. I can get overwhelmed with conflicting ideas. Here are two people who exemplify the help I need as I move ahead with my practice of focusing on love rather than fear. The first is a widely respected medical doctor who I have known for years. His name is David Katz, M.D., MPH, is a Preventive Medicine specialist and globally recognized authority on lifestyle medicine. He has published over 200 scientific articles and textbook chapters, and 18 books to date, including Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well.
More importantly, he is one of the few people I know who offers scientifically-sound common-sense, practical information about the Coronavirus. On his YouTube channel, he offers a regular “Covid Reality Check.” You can watch the whole series here, including his latest offering, “Reality Check #20, What Next.”
A colleague of Dr. Katz and a man I’ve come to respect and trust is Michal T. Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH, an internationally renowned epidemiologist and expert on infectious diseases. In his book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, he says,
As epidemiologists, we have two goals. The first is to prevent. When that is not possible, the second is to minimize disease and extended disability.
Dr. Osterholm heads the “Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Resource Center” at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). When I want to hear from an expert who offers calm, caring facts and advice, I get my information from him. He was recently appointed to President-Elect Joe Biden’s Covid-19 Task Force. Dr. Osterholm says we can’t wait until a new administration takes over in January. Learn why he believes we need action now.
If you want to join me on this adventure of a lifetime to protect ourselves by practicing love, please leave me a note. Please share with others you think would be interested. You can read my regular articles on my blog.
This post was previously published on Menalive.com.
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