This Is Exactly What We Need: Embracing The Corona Pandemic

As I start writing this, I’m not sure where this will post will take me. For a couple of days, I have been pondering on what to do. Then the corona virus came into my house. Yesterday at 17.30 to be precise. And even though the bug came in metaphorical form, it shifted the energy.

My fiancée is almost 36 weeks pregnant; we are expecting our second son somewhere between 1 to 5 weeks from today. April 16th is his due date. We were over the moon when we found out that we were expecting last summer. In July 2018 we lost our first son after 22 weeks of pregnancy and 8 days of labour and healing physically, emotionally and spiritually from that loss was a challenging journey. In the 17th week of this pregnancy we came close to a second tragedy. Fortunately, we were closely monitored by the hospital and with help of a surgical intervention and some fortune our child was saved. But weeks 17 till 26 felt like walking a tight rope over a deep abyss. A small misstep or an unfortunate twist of fate could cost us another child.

One can imagine the relief we felt when we made it to safer waters. The weeks after week 26 were a walk in a park in springtime. It felt great. We were so happy and proud, the baby so healthy and alive in the belly of his mum. Then the corona virus entered the scene. As with most of us we weren’t too worried at first. But we all know how quickly that escalated. Until Saturday the term ‘social distancing’ didn’t exist in my vocabulary. Now it is a thing. A big thing.

When the severity of the pandemic dawned upon me, I realized that being contagious during birth, and therefore not being allowed in the room with my fiancée, is my worst-case scenario. A little later we learned that a pregnant woman infected with the virus will be separated from her child immediately after her child is born. So we have good reasons to stay healthy and to adhere to the instructions regarding hand washing and social distancing and so forth.

Yesterday evening my girl felt depleted, like pregnant women feel. She asked me to cook and wanted me to go to the supermarket for her. In other words: she asked me to go to only place where you can still run into a lot of people at the only time it would be busy. I was flabbergasted and angrily told her no and that this was exactly the thing we shouldn’t do anymore, especially not when our fridge is full. She felt I was being a jerk. The argument lead to tears. The realization that the world has become unsafe and our child will be born precisely in this period sunk in. That was the moment the bug entered our house.

Later that same night I spoke to two friends, one of them being my business partner too. Both of them have children and wives who came back sick from respectively Switzerland and Austria. My partner told me he was tired of taking care of his whole family by himself and felt that the virus was about to catch him at any moment. I haven’t been able to get a hold of him today and I worry he is now sick too. Within a couple of hours it felt like the virus went from a theoretical concept to being present everywhere in my life.

Moments later I spoke to a friend from Brussels. His Paris based company is in jeopardy. In our brief conversation I remembered something. I believe it was Nietsche who said that when we meet challenges or adversity in our lives we should say: this is EXACTLY what I need. When I got up this morning these words were still lingering trough my mind.

What happens to us is seldom exactly what we want but in hindsight we can often see that even painful events had some hidden gifts. And for me the bug figuratively entering my house reminded me of my responsibility to be present and open.

By saying to any situation ‘this is exactly what I need’ the situation opens up. It doesn’t become more pleasant necessarily, but you will allow yourself to connect with the situation. All of a sudden your heart is in it. And by connecting with it the guidance will follow. You will know what to do, it will emerge from the depths of your consciousness.

It is a very hard practice. My child will be born in the midst of a global health crisis: this is exactly what I need. The streets of Amsterdam are filled with fear: this is exactly what I need. I see suffering and collapsing people on the news and my friends are struggling: this is exactly what I need. Not easy, right? But by acknowledging that I need these things to happen I will also feel why: because it humbles me. It reminds me of our fragile existence, our fragile planet and my fragile body. I’m reminded of the fact that I only have the present moment where I can show up in. And I feel aliveness and resilience flowing back into my system.

By saying ‘this is exactly what I need’ to everything, without any conditions or exceptions, we learn to embrace life unconditionally. This practice will lead us to letting go of judging and preferences. For judgmental and opinionated beings like ourselves this is a way towards tremendous freedom. We use our judgments for a large part to protect our egos from feeling vulnerability anyway. We never were invulnerable, we just fed ourselves with the illusion.

During these first days of our (yes: OUR) global pandemic we feel vulnerable. This is exactly what we need! When we embrace our vulnerability, we find preciousness, we find tenderness, we find compassion. When we try to escape our vulnerability, our fear gets the best of us. Before you know it, you find yourself hoarding toilet paper.

Why would you do this practice in the middle of a global crisis? Because you have no better option. The other option is rejection. That would be like saying: I don’t want this; I don’t need this. By rejecting your experience, you will disconnect from reality and make yourself a victim of the situation. You will feel sorry for yourself and try to blame others or the situation for your suffering. But by wanting the experience and opening up to all the feelings that come along with it you will receive power to respond in the most humane fashion.

First practice saying ‘this is EXACTLY what I need’ to EVERYTHING in your own life. Make it your personal mantra. You will most likely encounter all kinds of challenges and adversities soon, from medical to financial, from relational and emotional to physical. Face whatever you need to face and say: this is exactly what I need. Let life be your teacher.

And then we can reflect on this situation from a bigger perspective: why is this what is happening exactly what humanity needs? Why is the corona virus exactly what our planet needs? We as human beings are taught a very big lesson in our vulnerability, our interconnectedness, our being not separate from nature. We are shown how quickly the planet recovers when we don’t fly, we are taught what can happen if we treat animals cruelly. But we tend to quickly forget these lessons the moment we feel powerful again; we immediately become arrogant. So, let’s stick with the vulnerability for a while.