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  • Selva Lawler

#31 - The Last Time

"No matter how many times you do something, there will come a day when you do it for the last time." - Sam Harris There will be a last time when we're physically able to muster the strength to sprint a 100-yard dash. A last time when we tell a particular friend how much we appreciate them. A last time we go to town on a Taco Tuesday. I couldn't help but recently dive into those sentiments. "Into the Unknown" isn't just a catchy song from Frozen II. It feels like the anthem for COVID-19. We're not merely dipping our toes into the unknown. We involuntarily accelerated off a cliff and are taking the full Nestea plunge.  It's the end of an era. But more importantly, the end of an aura. That comfort zone - or whatever seemed "normal" to you - feels like it got obliterated into a billion pieces.  The list of canceled or postponed events racks up victim after victim. Wimbledon. Coachella. The Olympics. The new James Bond movie No Time to Die isn't dead, but it's not uncharitable to say that it's on life support or in extreme hibernation mode until November. The coronavirus is an equal opportunity canceler.  To me, it feels like humanity is in a prolonged, length-of-time-TBD timeout. Although bitterly disappointing, it doesn't feel punitive. In many ways, we're a juvenile, immature species. Mother Nature gave us this Garden of Eden. And humanity bungled it eight ways from Sunday.  We're like a little kid who has to be put in timeout. To my knowledge, there isn't a timeout appellate court that you can appeal to if you're convinced you're entirely blameless. Since we are all on Team People, we are all suffering in this collective timeout together. Athletes. Chefs. Entertainers. Selva painted an absolute masterpiece her last Huachuma ceremony, and now she can't continue her craft because of the global timeout. If this timeout we're going through isn't a painstakingly obvious example of the interconnectedness of humanity, I'm genuinely dumbfounded about what further evidence you'd need to be convinced.   The fragility of life makes us feel how dear life truly is. This extended shutdown entails a complete cessation of almost everything that we regularly do. It's an extra helping of "no mas" on virtually all of our adaptations, hedonic or otherwise. If this can't leave an indelible mark and lead to a permanent shift in consciousness and a realignment of our priorities...I'm not sure what will. We gotta wipe the slate clean and get back to basics.   Don Howard once told me that, "you can't override reality." If you feel completely comfortable in this new reality - which is so unlike anything any of us have experienced - your avatar in the great game is at least several levels ahead of mine. Most days, I'm unshakably optimistic. Generally speaking, it's pretty hard to keep my spirits down. However, I'd be breathtakingly insincere if I didn't say that on other days I've been drinking in the full spectrum of emotions. There's an oscillation between optimism and cynicism. Exciting new opportunities. Equanimity. Denial and rejection. Acceptance. Witnessing superhuman acts of heroism. Consuming stories of people acting despicably and with cowardice. Pain. Tragedy. The triumph of the human spirit. They're all being tossed into the pot.  All these sensations must be tasted. We're not T-1000s. We're human beings, and the human parts of us get emotional. As Jung observed, "there is no birth of consciousness without pain." I'm sanguine that the soup will taste better once the ink is dry on this COVID-19 chapter.  I entitled this piece "The Last Time." That wasn't clickbait, and I don't want to be melodramatic. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but think as our last SpiritQuest retreat adjourned in March that this would be the last one, or the last time, until...when? June? The end of the summer? A year from now? 2022? Those of you who predicted this global pandemic...can you help a brother out? My Magic 8-ball keeps coming up with non-committal responses like, "reply hazy, try again," "ask again later," or "cannot predict now." Having that variable as a total unknown is a real mindf*#@. A recent SpiritQuester and I had the following exchange: He: "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present." Me: "Wow! That's ingenious! You came up with that yourself?" He: "No, it's from the movie Kung Fu Panda." Me (expressing a look of bewilderment): "That's some wisdom from Kung Fu Panda, eh? Well...I'll be a monkey's uncle." He: "I have two young sons. I've probably seen that movie a thousand times." Me: "Understood." What do we have in these turbulent times? The present moment. When I am able to drop into that present moment, it's almost impossible not to feel blissful. How much more time do any of us have? No one knows. When I look for an example of that beyond the scope of COVID-19 related matters, I look pretty recently into the rearview mirror and imagine how unspeakably devastating Kobe Bryant's abrupt and tragic end was on so many levels. It feels like a lifetime ago, and yet it has only been two months. We're all on borrowed time merely trying to borrow a bit more. Notwithstanding how difficult this time is for everyone, I can, nay must, be grateful for the opportunity to begin anew. It makes me appreciative of the opportunity for another breath. For another opportunity to keep doing my best (which sometimes is absolute dogshit!) and raising the bar. For another opportunity to really go for it. Whatever that "it" is that sparks the spark in you and empowers you to sing your song is totally worth striving for. For me, not playing it small and expressing my truth means speaking up more about the environment. This may be wildly ignorant, but I can't help but think that the coronavirus isn't tied in some way to how poorly we treat our environment. When we massively disrupt Mother Nature, an unhealthy imbalance has a way of manifesting itself. If my advocating more for Team Earth leads to more unsubscribes, more thumbs down, more unfollows, more "you suck, loser!" messages, well, I don't care. I don't care. I. Don't. Care. There's so much remarkable beauty in the world, and I'd be committing an epic fail if I didn't highlight that more often.  All over the globe, the smog and fog of pollution has lifted and the air is abundantly clean. We've gotten a transient glimpse at how to live more sustainably. A healthier environment isn't a pipedream. It's unfolding before our very eyes. It's an encouraging picture. Thank you so much for all of your kind messages. Hearing so many stories from you undauntingly moving forward inspires me. The coronavirus hasn't stopped a woman or a man like you from exerting maximum effort and being the light. And those images act as a contagion in the most uplifting of ways. Much love and gratitude, -Parker


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