How to Find Opportunity in a Crisis


As much as we would like to make this virus go away and return to normal, we need to face the fact that we will never return to normal. We can only continue to move forward each day – together – into a new future that we are now challenged to create.  Most people are of course stunned that the world can come to a stand-still in a matter of months – but I’m not sure that’s the truth. I’ve been teaching in the field of health and spirituality for years now. I’ve listened closely to how people have described the energy they feel building in the atmosphere. By far, the majority of us in these past years have been bracing for something to happen, for some type of catalyst to ignite either a catastrophe or initiate a genuine global transformation.

Messages of a global catastrophe have been filtering into our social mind through movies with themes about pandemics and nuclear wars and other imagined means of destruction for decades now. Through these films, we envision survival scenarios, heroes and villains–but most of all survivors. We are, at the end of the day, built for surviving. So, in a sense, while we are now confronting the real thing, we cannot honestly say we didn’t expect something to happen. But of all the many catastrophes that we have imagined through films and books, only epidemics and pandemics contain the message: Heal. Now. All of you.

Pandemics are not political opponents. They do not cause one nation to want to destroy another. They create bridges. We reach out to other nations, unite with their scientists for information and research on finding a vaccine. Food may soon need to be shared. We may find ourselves organizing ways in our communities to be of service to those among us whose lives have completely collapsed as a result. The challenges we will face ahead of us will no doubt be many, and they will seem unmanageable – until they are not. We always find a way. And in the creation of that new way, we expose and solve problems that would have continued for who knows how long.

Healing is a demanding journey. It is a rigorous trek of transformation and this pandemic is an epic-sized sojourn with no end in sight. When an illness strikes an individual, that person usually discovers–and consequently uncovers–many areas of his or her life that were dysfunctional and also need healing. The same rule applies to the whole of society. This pandemic is exposing the many ills in our society that need healing, along with the numerous individuals who are now coping with COVID-19. The absence of air travel is clearing the air of toxic fumes. Water systems have already responded to the absence of pollution.

People are discovering they like to and might well prefer to work at home. How we do business in the months and years ahead is going to change. People are finding creative ways to do their work from home, which is inspiring another wave of creativity. Families are spending more time together. Instead of so many us who typically long to be “in our own space,” we are now craving the company of others. The fragility of life has made itself apparent. Any one of us can find ourselves COVID-19 positive and fighting for our lives. That radical truth has inspired a rapid transformation in values. Life is more important than stuff; time is more precious than travel. The well-being of family and friends, and seeing them again, is the reason why we want to keep ourselves well.

And, yes, abuse, alcoholism, depression, suicide and despair are also on the rise as a result of confinement and job loss. These crises are exploding and tragically we must acknowledge when human resources are at their most exhausted point. Still, people are responding to the many in need and realizing that the capacity to care for these individuals is sorely lacking. Perhaps we will emerge from this virus realizing how much we need to care for the vulnerable among us.

All of our lives are changing–and will continue to change. The way I see it is this: Only the Divine can stop a planet full of people and transmit the command. Heal. Now. Transform how you have been living. Life is more precious than things. This will be a difficult journey. There is nothing easy about transformation. But we were headed–and still are –toward climate change, possible war, and endless other catastrophic problems. With a pandemic that requires us to focus fully on healing, we have been given not only our marching orders, we have been given hope.

This essay was featured in the May 17th edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper inspires hearts and minds to rise above the noise. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.


Caroline Myss is an American author of numerous books and audio tapes, including five New York Times best-sellers: Anatomy of the Spirit, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Sacred Contracts, Invisible Acts of Power, Entering The Castle, and Defy Gravity.

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